The year 1997 had an interesting fact. Far beyond our borders, the Wagenborg flag was planted in an unexplored area: in Kazakhstan on the Caspian Sea.

This remarkable novelty was partly a consequence of the name Wagenborg had established in the field of integrated logistics. Director Rob Wagenborg: "Our versatility and the fact that we are not accustomed to say "no", we came up with a logistical solution through our existing oil and gascontacts at the right time for a rather complex logistical problem."

A consortium of seven oil companies, with Shell as secretary, had studied the possibility of oil production in the North Caspian Sea, in an area of ​​approximately 300 kilometers by 300 kilometers, with shallow waters of only 3 meters and where one meter thick ice can occur during the winter. Wagenborg, with knowledge in the field of navigation in shallow water, including ice, combined with logistical knowledge in oil and gas, was asked to advise in this situiation. We developed a supply strategy and specifications for required materials in the construction of the artificial island supply ships. All this ultimately resulted in the contract to supply the whole package, including the two icebreaking supply vessels. Wagenborg left a international field of thirty candidates behind.

The construction contract for the supply vessels, that got the typology 'Shallow draft icebreaker supply vessels', went to Kvaerner Masa in Helsinki. The vessels can move forward through 60 cm of ice; backwards through almost a meter ice. The fact that the icebreaking qualities in reversemode are better, is because of the shape and the weight of the stern in combination with the so-called "Azipod system. This diesel electric propulsion system is ideally suited for operations in the ice, because unlike the traditional drive mechanisms it has no direct link between vulnerable engine and propeller. The stainless steel screws are driven electrically and are able to crush ice chunks.

The 'Arcticaborg'  is able to sail through 90 cm of ice due to her Azipodsystem
The 'Arcticaborg' is able to sail through 90 cm of ice due to her Azipodsystem

Then the Kazakhstan project then got another expansion. For the movement of the immense work island to other locations shallow draft tugs with sufficient capacity are needed, which can operate simultaneously. Wagenborg again had a lot of knowledge and experience in this specific field and was also responsible for the practical implementation of the towing jobs. So this resulted in the construction of four tugs of approximately 30 meters in length with a depth of about 1.30 meters, about twice every 675 hp available. One of these tugs is also equipped with a crane, so that it can also be used as a support vessel.

Currently 15 years have passed and Wagenborg still operates in the Caspian Sea. With 30 vessels ranging from icebreaking supply ships to accommodation vessels. From ice-strengthened pontoons to anchor handling tugs. Managed from our operational base in Bautino and our office organization Akau Wagenborg is now a familiar sight in this region.

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