Flexibility in performance and field
development propel FPSO market
Wood Group Mustang
The FPSO feet has been steadily growing since the frst facility was activated more than 35 years ago. Today, there are more than 200 global FPSO installations. Since the last survey in August 2012, nine vessels have reached frst oil. They include Petrofac’s Berantai FPSO offshore Malaysia, and the Montara Venture FPSO at PTTEP’s Montara
feld in the Timor Sea.
Two vessels reached frst oil in Europe. The cylindrical Sevan-designed Voyageur Spirit, owned and operated by Teekay Corp., is
working at the Huntington feld in the UK North Sea. BP’s Skarv
FPSO reached frst oil at the end of 2012 at its namesake deepwater
feld in the Norwegian Sea.
Four vessels are located in the “Golden Triangle” – three in Brazil, and one (BP’s PSVM) in Angola. The vessels operating in Brazil
listed in last year’s poster featured a nearly 50/50 split between contractor-owned vessels and operator-owned vessels. Of those operator-owned vessels, the majority – about two-thirds – were Petrobras-owned vessels. This year, there are three new Brazilian vessels, and
none of them are owned by Petrobras.
The ninth vessel is the Crystal Ocean, a mini-FPSO owned by Sea
Production Ltd. It is supporting Pemex’s activities in the Mexican
side of the Gulf of Mexico, according to the vessel’s current operator, Blue Marine Technology Group.
Advantages to FPSOs can be classifed in two ways: fexibility in
performance and feld development. Flexibility in performance includes all aspects from options for construction to seaworthiness. The
basic performance advantages of an FPSO relate to oil storage capacity, operation in all types of environments, less sensitivity to weight
increase or COG shift, ease of modularization, and redeployment to
other areas when felds have declined. These and other factors are
reasons why an FPSO is considered as a viable deepwater feld development option.
With market expectations of exponential growth over the next
fve to 10 years, much of the increase is anticipated for West Africa,
Brazil, and Southeast Asia. The main drivers for this growth are:
• Slowing of shallow-water feld development resulting in deeper
water feld development
• Lack of infrastructure in remote deepwater areas
• Safety and security of offshore facility
• Ability to relocate quickly under harsh weather conditions
• Increasing need to develop stranded gas in deepwater.
While the traditional oil and gas FPSO market continues to expand,
new technological advancement in cryogenic materials, safety in design
and modularization of liquefaction facilities has led to the development
of foating LNG (FLNG) and foating regasifcation (FSRU) facilities.
The FLNG market is expected to be a growth market over the
next fve to 10 years having started in earnest with the award of
Prelude by Shell and PFLNG 1 by Petronas. The modularized design
of FPSOs and FLNGs lend themselves to distributing work to multiple locations, easing pressures on local workforces, and lowering
Skarv is a 295 m (968 ft) long, 51 m (167 ft) wide turret-moored FPSO that
is connected to 13 risers and will ultimately receive production from 16
wells connected to five subsea drilling templates. (Photo courtesy BP)
demands on a single fabricator. It is expected that the market will
continue to grow in special circumstances that favor FLNG, such as
reduced infrastructure situations and overall lower cost compared
to onshore liquefaction.
In response to this growth, oil and gas engineering companies remain at the forefront of topsides design by providing services for new
and emerging trends of foating, production, and storage facilities.
These companies have focused on the differentiators between a fxed
platform and a foating facility, and have identifed the key elements
unique for a successful design. Successful engineering requires effective decision making in process optimization, hull design, layout,
and modularization. Keys to success are experienced engineers and
designers who understand best practices for the structural interface
between hull and topsides modules and for optimized equipment location, technical safety, maintenance and operability, while keeping in
mind unique hull characteristics such as hogging and sagging in a
ship-shaped foating facility.
EPC companies have also acquired foating cranes that can lift modules close to 3,000 metric tons ( 3,307 tons). Some EPC fabricators have
committed to or are in negotiations to increase their lift capacity cap
even more in the near future. The additional capacity is needed for the
larger FLNG modules with the added bonus of reducing the number of
modules on a vessel. Modularization and the ability to pre-commission
modules at the quay side before lifting onto the hull directly affects the
project cost and schedule. In addition, EPC companies have become
skillful in the design and fabrication of double walled hulls and can deliver hulls that store more than 2 MMbbl and accommodate topside
facilities of 40,000-plus metric tons ( 44,092 tons).
The FPSO market is growing and efforts are being made by all
industry participants to facilitate this growth. For more information,
please see the FPSO poster contained within this issue of Offshore. •
Special thanks to Christopher Mahoney for his contributions to this article and the
related FPSO survey poster.