Italy’s Saipem and Dutch contractor Seafox have confirmed a recent incident on board a sub-contracted jack-up accommodation barge Seafox Deema in which one of the vessel’s cranes collapsed into the water off the Qatari coast, killing a crane operator.

A company spokesperson for Saipem told Upstream that, “while the detailed investigation is still ongoing, from a preliminary analysis the causes of this accident are to be sought in the structural failure of the pedestal crane".

The jack-up barge was working for Qatargas’ Barzan pipeline replacement project, when the crane boom collapsed, killing the operator.

“Yes, unfortunately the crane operator, who was a direct employee of Seafox Deema, died as he was still in the crane cabin,” a Saipem spokesperson confirmed.

Seafox was the operator of the jack-up vessel that was working on a sub-contract from Saipem, the main engineering, procurement, construction and installation contractor for Qatargas’ Barzan pipeline replacement project.

Saipem said the accident occurred when the subcontractor (Seafox) “with control and responsibility for the jack up and the crane operations, was shifting some cargoes on a supply vessel".

“As the investigation is still ongoing, at this stage we cannot provide further details,” the Italian contractor said.

Seafox later also confirmed the incident in a brief statement sent to Upstream.

"It is with great sadness that we report an unfortunate incident onboard our unit Seafox Deema on the 16 March 2020 at WHP-2, Barzan Field, in offshore Qatar," the statement read.

"The accident, which involved the starboard crane capsizing overboard, resulted in the loss of life of our crane operator.

"No other persons were injured in the crane accident.

"First and foremost, our hearts go out to the victim’s family. Seafox are providing all possible support to the family of the deceased, as we stand by our employees and their families.

"Investigations are under way in co-ordination with the Qatari authorities, our client and the field operator.

"We have provided all the evidence gathered in relation to this incident to the relevant authorities involved, to assist them in conducting their full, detailed investigation, including the necessary certifications of the crane and past inspections by third parties and class."

Upstream had reported earlier this week on the Seafox Deema incident that had killed the vessel's crane operator.

A person with direct knowledge of the incident earlier told Upstream that “a crane from jack-up barge Deema was lifting some pipe spools from an offshore support vessel, when it failed and toppled into the water with the boom and cabin".

A diving operation followed, which later confirmed the fatality, as the crane operator was unresponsive, he added.

A second person had said that the work on Seafox Deema vessel has been stalled temporarily following the incident.

However, no damage has been reported on the topsides and subsea assets involving the Barzan project, he added.

Upstream has sought a response from Qatargas on the incident.

Seafox Deema is a three-legged, self-elevating jack-up unit for accommodation and offshore support services.

It was converted to a self-elevating jack-up in 1990 by Lamprell in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and was subsequently upgraded there in 1998.

The vessel has a maximum person-on-board capacity of 470 and can operate in water depths up to 190 feet (58 metres), according to the company website.

Seafox Deema has three cranes, with a maximum lift of 200 tonnes.

Upstream in 2018 had reported that Saipem was set to win a $1 billion-plus offshore pipeline contract from Qatargas, involving its much delayed Barzan gas project in Qatar's giant North Field.

The Italian contractor landed the key Barzan project in 2018 and has been working on the pipeline project.

The project’s workscope included the EPCI of more than 170 kilometres of offshore pipelines, plus an additional 80 kilometres of piggyback lines.

The $10 billion-plus Barzan gas development is being carried out by RasGas (now merged with Qatargas) and US supermajor ExxonMobil.

State-owned player Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil signed agreements confirming the Barzan project in 2011. The scheme involves a mix of offshore as well as onshore facilities.

The offshore element of the project comprises three wellhead platforms, a living quarters platform, several kilometres of subsea pipelines as well as more than 100 kilometres of subsea cables and almost 30 development wells.

The Barzan project is expected to boost gas production capacity by 2 billion cubic feet per day, as Qatar prepares to meet rising demand ahead of the 2022 football World Cup.

Much of Barzan's production is likely to be used to provide feedstock for Qatar's domestic power and water sectors.

The Barzan offshore facilities are located 80 kilometres north-east of Qatar’s Ras Laffan industrial city.