Home Discover the largest and heaviest structure ever moved by man: Troll-A Platform, an engineering feat for the extraction of natural gas

Discover the largest and heaviest structure ever moved by man: Troll-A Platform, an engineering feat for the extraction of natural gas

2 April 2024 17 gies: 47
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It measures 472 meters in height, of which 300 are located on the seabed. With an impressive weight of 683.600 tons; 1,2 million tons with ballast

The platform measures 472 meters high, of which 300 are on the seabed. With a weight of 683.600 tons; 1,2 million tons with ballast

The Gas Troll-A platform is the largest and heaviest structure ever transported by man across the Earth's surface. Measures 472 meters high, of which 300 are located on the seabed. With an impressive weight of 683.600 tons; 1,2 million tons with ballast, this massive structure was designed and built to extract natural gas from the depths of the Troll gas field.

However, to make this incredible structure possible, engineers had to overcome a series of challenges, from transportation and installation to gas extraction and transportation. In this article, we will explore the key challenges faced by engineers and the innovative solutions found to make the Gas Troll-A platform a reality.

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Construction of platform legs

One of the most critical and important parts of the Gas Troll-A platform were its legs, which had an impressive height of 303 meters. These legs needed to be realistic, extremely strong and resistant, flexible and, above all, waterproof. The solution found by the engineers was to use concrete, a promising material that met all the requirements.

However, concrete had a fatal flaw: when constructed in separate parts, it was difficult to make it waterproof at the joints. Furthermore, the meeting regions of elements completed at different times were weakly joined, making the structure unstable and potentially subject to collapse. To solve this problem, the engineers used the system in a sliding way, which allowed the continuous and seamless construction of the platform legs.

  • The sliding formwork system consists of assembling a formwork with the shape of the intended structure around the steel frames.
  • Then the concrete is poured, and the hydraulic system raises the platform a few centimeters upward.
  • This process is repeated successively, ensuring that the structure grows continuously, without interruptions or amendments.

With the use of sliding shapes, the platform legs were constructed as a single piece, seamless, making the structure safer and more resistant.

The inner part of one of the legs of the Troll-A platform is almost two meters thick

Resistance to storms and sea waves

The GasTroll-A platform was built to withstand the enormous tensions generated by the winds of the most intense storms and waves up to 30 meters high. It was also designed to last until the year 2066. However, the structure hid a potential problem that could lead to its collapse – the effect of aeroelastic resonance.

Aeroelastic resonance is an aerodynamically induced condition in which the structure begins to vibrate at the same frequency as ocean waves, causing it to collapse. To avoid this problem, engineers used a huge concrete block called a shortler, which interconnects the platform's legs to eliminate possible resonances caused by sea waves.

Platform positioning on the seabed

After building the platform legs, they needed to be joined together to form the final structure. The legs and the platform itself were built separately and needed to be joined together. O method used was to fill the 300 meter legs with water, almost completely submerging them. This process was considered the most critical part of the entire construction.

After submerging the legs, a vacuum was created that caused the 40-meter pillars to sink into the seabed, thus trapping the platform. This solution prevents waves of up to 30 meters and strong winds from overturning the platform.

Gas extraction and transportation

The Gas Troll-A platform began production in 1996 and is currently operated by the company Equinor. It is responsible for extracting natural gas and oil from the Troll gas fields. The extracted gas is transported through 70 km of pipelines to Norway.

At the beginning of exploration, the internal pressure of the gas was so high that it was transported to Norway without the need for additional machinery. However, after 10 years, engineers had to find a solution to use the gas in a more efficient and controlled way, maintaining production levels in accordance with the company's interests.

The solution found was the use of compressors, equipment that is based on the operating principle of a fan. The compressors are responsible for expelling the gas through a 70 km pipeline to Norway in just 84 seconds, at a speed of 36 km per hour. This allows gas is transported efficiently and meets the needs of more than 80 million users in Europe.

A true work of engineering

The Gas Troll-A platform is a true work of engineering, which faced a series of challenges to become a reality. From building the platform legs to positioning it on the seabed and efficiently extracting and transporting the gas, engineers found innovative solutions to overcome each obstacle.

This incredible structure, which weighs 1,2 million tons, represents a milestone in engineering and the exploration of natural resources. With its ability to withstand storms, waves and even earthquakes, the GasTroll-A platform is an impressive example of how engineering can overcome challenges and make the impossible possible.

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