Feeds

Brit hover barges, airships offered to Canadian oilfields

Can Blighty beat the (partly) Canadian blimpcopter?

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

British firms are pitching retro-futuristic transport ideas for future energy projects intended to exploit the "oil sands" of Canada's Alberta province. Two ideas being touted are riverine "hover barges" and monster heavy-lift "hybrid" airships.

Hovertrans hoverbarge in action on the Yukon river in the 1970s

Tomorrow's wilderness heavy lift - brought to you yesterday

Fort McMurray Today reports from a transportation planning meeting hosted in Alberta by energy companies and local government, seeking to find ways to get access for oil exploitation to remote areas. The Alberta provincial government estimates that there are oil reserves of 173 billion barrels accessible with today's technology in the region, and is understandably interested in getting them out.

Thus far, transportation to support oilsands energy projects has been conventional, involving new roads capable of carrying heavy equipment and big expensive construction efforts far from heavily-populated areas.

But it could be easier and cheaper to bring in mostly prefabricated, modular plants and pipelines - if you could move really heavy loads into the interior of Alberta. It wouldn't make sense to build even bigger roads for more or less one-off use, though: which is where radical transport ideas come in.

“It's time to start shifting cultures," Wes Holodniuk, assistant deputy chief administrator of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, told Fort McMurray Today.

One ploy that might do the job is the use of "hoverbarges", essentially very large hovercraft, to bring the new oil plants. Normal barges able to carry hundreds of tonnes would need a certain minimum depth of water, but a hover barge needs only a reasonably flat surface. It laughs at mud or sand banks, shallows, swamps and even quicksand - a loaded hoverbarge's ground pressure (one pound per square inch) is much less than a human's.

Stuart Turner of Southampton-based Hovertrans says that a 200-tonne hoverbarge can drive over eggs without breaking them. His company offers designs capable of carrying loads up to 2500 tonnes, though they can only be self-propelled up to 200 tonnes. Above that they need to use some form of surface traction, usually supplied by a towing or pushing vehicle or vessel - though there's a "bolt-on" kit too.

Turner told Fort McMurray Today that hoverbarges were used back in the 1970s on the Yukon river, and they could easily haul in prefabricated oilsand rigs up Alberta's Athabasca river.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.