Why a “Shore-end Cable Installation Package Manager” position is uncommon and unnecessary for Sub Sea Cables Installer companies?
The most common answer, from companies, is “… it’s a small job and unnecessary cost that we can cover by some of our Cable Lay Vessel manager’s position…” Another easy answer that I heard several times is “… we not have this position in our company, sorry…” simple like that. In this article, I want to explain why they are wrong and why Cable Installation companies must consider this part of the project as a very important position.
After 25 years in the sector, I have covered many different positions in the Cable Shore-end Installation sector, from the Diver and Dive Superintendent Side, the Beach Master perspective, dealing with onsite duties to managing the overall Package, covering the whole operations.
Shore-end Cable Installation works should start several months prior to the cable installation dates, when the landing point location is already determined. Most of the time, the cable landing locations are determined by the already built substation and do not allow modifications, however, always the cable route in shallow waters can be modified and/or re-routed until almost the last 100m of the cable route towards the shoreline. This shows how important the Cable Route Pre-Survey works is, where findings & recommendations (data acquired) are the bible for the welfare and long life of the future asset. At this point in time, it sounds obvious and smart to select the future Shore-end Cable Package Manager in advance to supervise those important works.
Cable Route Pre-Survey with divers from the beach to 10/12/15m WD (depending on each location) has to be done. Geo-referenced videos and reporting too. Well done.
Now let’s guess that we have already selected the best cable route possible in shallow waters for our cables… How we achieved this? Because the company hired an expert in the field, who supervised the dive survey, applied his/her experience and selected /proposed the best seabed route possible that will provide the most comfort and stability to the future installation so, will minimize the future “Cost Impact” for their final clients in the project most of the times. Also, with the same importance, they will have a clear figure in their heads what future actions, and additional or remedial works would be necessary to take place during and after the cable shore-end installation. We are talking about “Cost Control”, one of the company’s dream/nightmare for every project. Probably also for the same companies that told me many time that is an unnecessary position in their cable projects.
At this point in time, with all drawings cleared, seabed route HD videos re-viewed and beach landing point measured and reported, we will have just a few months to develop and produce a proper Scope of Work, MS and RA’s accordingly. Then also we will need to locate the most efficient/cost effective local subcontractor’s support and/or installer’s own equipment in place. This is 100% Field Work Management. Will you hire an expert on the matter for this duties? Maybe the same expert that managed the pre-dive survey, who is the one who knows what the shore-end project needs?
Field works is an awesome and adventurous duty but can be frustrating sometimes depending on each location and country. Generally the Package Manager have to deal with so many things as i.e. local terrestrial machinery, heavy equipment supplies, local manpower support, local excavating machinery, local support of vessels and small boats, local diving companies (most of them without previous cable installation experience) and the most difficult ones, the Local Permits and the Environmental Issues. Here we must also consider the language communication barriers, what means we need to have diverse language skills that open many doors. Do not forget that you never have exactly shore-end dates when you are dealing with all those duties, what makes all even more difficult. Hopefully, at this moment, you start to realize that hiring an expert will solve and face the issues in less time and more effectively, again we are talking about “Cost Control”.
A Shore-end Cable Installation takes normally 1-2 days only per landing point, however, Cable Manufacture/Cable Transportation/PLGR-Route Clearance/Cable Lay/Cable Burial…etc. are operations that usually takes weeks or months and are the most costly ones, but this doesn’t means that shore-ends will be less important and will require less Management time. Also we have to consider as a very important fact that shallow waters are the most common areas of human activities. (International Cable Protection Committee ICPC recommendations stated and proved that actually 72% of the subsea cables failures and repairs are the consequences of the human fishing/anchoring activities in shallow waters). This brings, in this case, a huge additional cost to our final clients or sometimes can be a direct cost impact to cable installers. Will you still take the risk, or will you think to hire an expert in the field that knows those facts?
Shore-end cable Installation day. After almost 25 years installing shore-ends, I can’t sleep well the day before. It’s all in place? Weather will help? Did I miss something? All safety aspects revised? Is my camera ready? Is the messenger line ready? Are the tides helping? And one thousand questions more. !!Yes!! We had a successful shore-end Installation again and the most important thing, “The Cable”, has been deployed in the route selected, the best possible.
One of the most grateful views is to see, from the beach, the Cable Lay Vessel to start cable lay operations and in one/two days disappears on the horizon. What’s next, Shore-end cable installation phase finished? Not at all.
We are already working a minimum of six to twelve months in advance as a Shore-end Cable Installation Package Manager and our duties just started. We have now a new asset in the seabed that always requires to be protected and needs, most of the times, additional stabilization. Why I am saying “…always needs to be protected…”? Well, I just have to look into my statistics and see that 85% of the cable repairs near the coast that I did during the last 24 years were unprotected cables in waters less than 20m WD. Again we are talking about “Cost Impact”. Are the cable installer companies still thinking that is an unnecessary cost to hire an expert in the Shore-end Cable Installation Package? Why do they not have this position in their companies?
What else did we manage during all this period of time previous to the cable installation? According with the Pre-dive cable routes surveys that we managed almost one year ago, we are able to prepare the post installation scope well in advance, what most of the times include articulated pipes installation and maybe pinning by divers in rock (one of the most cost effective solutions) and/or cable burial in sand by divers or also using a plough/trenching vehicle for cable burial with support vessel. A comprehensive time frame of one to ten weeks of cable post-remedial works is very common to achieve a complete and secure cable shore-end Installation, depending on cable dimensions and soil structure and contract requirements as main factors.
I would like to finish this article, not without mentioning, that Environmental aspects are growing in importance in the cable industry and Environmental National Regulations worldwide are increasing and demanding more care and actions from the client/installer side. This means that Shore-end Cable Installation Package Managers must also have experience in this subject and deal with all those requirements on a daily basis during Project Management.
Are you still convinced that is an unnecessary position that can be covered with a well-respected professional man/woman who is focused and expert in Cable Lay Vessel Operations? To summarize, I will be pleased to discuss the subject with all my friends and colleagues that are all part of the Submarine Power & Telecom Industry.
Debate is open and waiting for your appreciated and professional opinions.
Senior Shore-end Cable Installation Manager.