Your Community Newspaper - Larose, LA

Serving Raceland, Gheens, Lockport, Valentine, Larose, Cut Off, Galliano, Golden Meadow, Leeville, & Grand Isle

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Share This Article:

Golden arches causing a stir in the Gulf

Golden arches causing a stir in the Gulf

The VB 10,000 lift system is used in the decommissioning of an 1,800 ton topside.

If you were travelling along Louisiana’s coast last week, you may have seen giant golden arches floating in the Gulf of Mexico.

No, McDonalds did not open an offshore location. The arches are actually those of the VB 10,000 – a massive, floating piece of equipment that is used for salvaging and decommissioning oil platforms.

Jon Khachaturian, owner of Versabar, created the VB 10,000 in 2010. The yellow monument soars 250‘ into the air and sits upon two barges each measuring 70’ x 300’. The width between the two is roughly 130’.

To put it into perspective, the Mercedes Benz Superdome reaches a height of 273 feet; slightly two stories more than the VB 10,000. If the VB 10,000 were a building, the top floor would be 25 stories high; 22 stories higher than Lady of the Sea General Hospital.

“The width between the barges is wide enough for a 737 plane to fly through it with five feet of space on either side of its wingspan,” said Tom Cheatum, Versabar Sales & Marketing manager.

The massive machine is controlled by a Dynamic Positioning System (DP3) and uses GPS coordinates to keep the barges in line, according to Cheatum.

Companies including Shell, BP, Exxon and Chevron hire Versabar to salvage platforms that were destroyed by storms or other events and are now left lying on the bottom of the Gulf floor. The same companies also hire Versabar to decommission platforms that are no longer being used and move them to new locations.

“The current model’s predecessor, dubbed Bottom Feeder, is a smaller version of the VB 10,000 and was created after Hurricanes Ivan, Rita, Katrina and Ike that destroyed about 170 Gulf platforms,” Cheatum said.

The Bottom Feeder was designed and built in response to the large number of platforms toppled by hurricanes into the Gulf of Mexico�as an alternative to time-consuming and hazardous piecemeal recovery. The Bottom Feeder was used to recover platforms in a single piece that weigh up to 4,000 tons, says Versabar’s website.

The VB 10,000 can salvage a platform laying 400’ below on the Gulf floor in about an hour. The machinery has a 7,500 ton lift-capacity.�

“The vast majority of platforms have been salvaged. We picked up scores of them because we can do larger work loads (entire platforms, etc.),” Cheatum said. “Now we’re mainly working on decommissioning and moving platforms for oil companies.”

Visit to read about past projects, view the video and photo galleries or to learn more about Versabar.