Jack-up barges add to oil and gas cargo-handling capacity at Mocimboa da Praia

Mocimboa da Praia, Mozambique. Credit: Google Maps

The first of two jack-up barges to be deployed as a ‘pop-up port’ has arrived in Mocimboa da Praia, Mozambique, to service the burgeoning liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in the region.

Having mostly handled dhow sailing vessels in the past, the small port had only a rudimentary infrastructure, but its proximity to the Afungi LNG project site at Palma (80 km away) makes it a better choice to transship project cargo rather than navigating the poor road conditions from the ports of Pemba (424 km away) and Nacala (684 km away) further south.

The ALS Alliance – a collaboration between LBH Mozambique (the barge operator), Alpha Logistics, and Subtech Mozambique formed in 2017 – handles logistics in the port.

In June 2018, the alliance brought in Alpha Transporter, a 57 m long, 1,057 dwt landing craft-type vessel. It was carrying a Grove 980 mobile crane and a container for the port in preparation for the first transshipment of cement to Afungi.

The vessel now shuttles cargo between Pemba and Mocimboa da Praia. Any heavy cargo has to be transported by sea to Mocimboa da Praia and then trucked to Palma/Afungi.

The barge, LBH Ikuru (formerly Karlissa A), is the latest addition to the port infrastructure and will be used for transshipping project cargo from barges and vessels.

The barge’s six legs can jack up to 50 m, allowing it to work in water as shallow as 1 m to depths in excess of 35 m. Its 1,100 m2 platform is fitted with a 240-tonne Manitowoc crane.

After refurbishment at the Southern Africa Shipyards in Durban in January, LBH Ikuru was towed 3,000-odd km to Mocimboa da Praia by handling tug supply vessel AHTS Nor Captain. The voyage was uneventful, despite a few days of heavy weather and seas.

The second barge, LBH Itthepo, is scheduled to depart Durban in mid-March 2020. Once both barges are in place, they will provide a combined 120 m of fully self-sustaining quayside complete with cranes and onboard power generation.