Allseas to convert drillship to nodule mining vessel

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Allseas expects converted drillship to be operational for pilot nodule collection tests by mid 2021. (Image: Allseas)

Swiss-based offshore contractor Allseas Group S.A. has acquired the former Petrobras ultra-deepwater drillship Vitoria 10000 for conversion to a polymetallic nodule collection vessel. She is 228 m long, 42 m wide, and can accommodate 200 people.

In November last year, the vessel had been reported been sold at auction for $15.5 million to Hong Kong based scrap ship cash buyer Best Oasis Ltd.

In partnership with Vancouver, Canada, headquartered DeepGreen Metals Inc., Allseas is developing a deep-sea mineral collection system to recover polymetallic nodules from the ocean floor and transfer them to the surface for transportation to shore. The nodules contain high grades of nickel, manganese, copper and cobalt—key metals required for building electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy technologies.

The ship will be converted to accommodate the pilot nodule collection system currently being engineered by Allseas. As a former drill ship, her configuration is well-suited for modifications that will enable the deployment at sea of a 4.5 kilometer-long riser currently being developed by Allseas.

After the nodules have been collected and taken to shore they will be processed using a metallurgical flowsheet developed by DeepGreen.

The strategic acquisition of the vessel marks a key milestone for the partnership, which leverages the offshore engineering capabilities of Allseas to propel DeepGreen’s mission to source the metals needed for a more sustainable future with less environmental and social impact.

“Allseas is excited to be involved in the exploration of the deep ocean for these important metals” says Allseas founder and president Edward Heerema. “Deep-sea polymetallic nodule collection represents a new frontier and a new exciting chapter in Allseas’ history. With our offshore expertise and innovative capability, we can develop creative technical solutions for this new industry.”

Allseas expects the vessel to be operational for pilot nodule collection tests by mid 2021.

“To have partners like Allseas bring their engineering excellence and passion to help get this industry started makes us, and the industry, very fortunate,” said DeepGreen Chairman and CEO Gerard Barron. “The green transition is going to require hundreds of millions of tonnes of nickel, copper and cobalt, and our research shows that ocean polymetallic nodules could provide society with these critical minerals at a fraction of the environmental and social impacts associated with land-based extraction.”

DeepGreen Metals Inc. holds exploration rights to two polymetallic nodule contract areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone sponsored by the governments of Nauru and Kiribati and regulated by the International Seabed Authority.

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