Genova - Say hello to the AE94.3A. The electricity it will generate will brighten the homes of 200,000 Tunisian families. On reaching Mornaguia, Tunisia, please inform the Societe Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz that it wasn’t easy to assemble this in good time after the Morandi Bridge of Genoa collapsed. But the job was done. Because in this city working is our way of saying that we will never give up.
On a late summer morning the first gas turbine assembled at Ansaldo’s Cornigliano facility was loaded onto the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged BBC Moonstone; the ship sailed out of the 500-meter Polcevera Radice di Cornigliano dock, jointly used by Ilva and Ansaldo Energia, destined for the port of Bizerte after the required two days of navigation, where the turbine will be transported by road for the 60-km journey to Mornaguia. The equipment will be used to power one of two 340MW plants that Ansaldo is building in Tunisia, a contract worth an overall 240-million euro.
The date is September 18 2018, and in Genoa it’s a historic day for the energy company led by Giuseppe Zampini, as it demonstrates productivity in the face of having parts of the city still off-limits, and one that also signals the rebirth of the Ilva steel plant under its new owner, ArcelorMittal. The Moonstone, a 14,800DWT vessel belonging to BBC Chartering, carries two 400-ton cranes, one of which hoisted aloft the 335-ton AE94.3A gas turbine. The turbine that shows Genoa’s resilience has not yet been nicknamed, that task will be up to its operator in Mornaguia: “Its initial firing-up stirs strong emotions. Traditionally we pick names of daughters, lovers or ex-girlfriends,” recounts Gaspare Pullare, a young turbine operator, recently back at work in the Genoa factory following an almost ten-year-long overseas job assignment.
When the crane is armed, cables that look like large ropes, but in fact are twisted steel wires, descend as Ilva workers operate it from the ground, looking like children playing tug of war. Christian Alfieri of BBC Chartering explains about the required adjustments needed before the crane tackles such weight: “Water has to be loaded into the tank on the opposite side of the ship to give stability and compensate for the load, otherwise cargo would shift over to the side of the weight being lifted.” Alfieri points out that usually two cranes along a central axis are used, “the manoeuvre is faster and cheaper”, but the clearance limit on-site does not yet allow a height of 44 meters to be exceded, so this system is used, at least until the port gets the permission for night-time operations. Gaetano Lupo, in-charge of Ilva docking manoeuvres, leads his ten-man team, four on land, four on board, plus two standing-by; “This is a very long, deep clearance dock, which can accommodate up to three ships. We usually move 40-ton coils, one at a time. But the technique is the same and the work is proceeding well.” The price-tag for leasing a ship and organizing such a special transport? “About half a million euro, door-to-door,” replies Stefano Balli of Fracht. When Zampini arrives on the dock his workers are enthralled by what, to their eyes, is “truly the most beautiful spectacle in the world”. The stator of the generator, the component that in the early hours of August 18, skirting the debris of the collapsed bridge, made it from Campi to Cornigliano in a highly escorted truck convoy, has already been loaded on board: “I’m sorry for those competitors who said the bridge would be a serious obstacle for us,” notes the engineer sarcastically. Ironworkers Roberto Esposito and Bruno Guerra are working nearby; “Us, worried by Mittal? Quite the contrary. We’re curious to see how the new management will be. ArcelorMittal is a capable group, Ilva was run for too long by individuals only interested in controlling, but not in learning anything. We’re expecting job placement proposals. And we’re not afraid.”