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EQUIPMENT & ENGINEERING
A recently commissioned marine offshore floating hub supports
offshore drilling operations for Saudi Aramco in the Arabian Gulf. The
concept acts as a supply base near clusters of offshore drilling rigs to
provide timely support of material deliveries such as drilling fluids,
equipment, water, and fuel. In addition, it offers capabilities such as
mud mixing, open and covered storage areas, and accommodation.
Saudi Aramco says the hub, or marine offshore storage supply vessel
(MOSSV), is the first of its kind in the world and believes it represents
a paradigm shift in the way offshore logistics operations are managed.
Extensive collaboration between the company’s Marine and Drilling departments over a three-year period led to the development of MOSSV,
located 70 nautical miles (130 km) offshore from the Tanajib Port on
the northeast coast of the Arabian Gulf. Currently, it is stationed in
the Southern Hasbah field anchorage point supporting seven offshore
Basically, the hub is a huge, rededicated oil tanker stocked with all
of the supplies and equipment to keep offshore rigs running smoothly,
thereby saving vessels time and costly roundtrips to port. Support vessels can then shuttle back and forth between the tanker and the rigs.
The floating hub functions as a mini-Tanajib Pier, with efficiency and
teamwork essential to its success.
The logistics model is based on a “milk run” concept to increase a
vessel’s utilization and reduce turnaround time in port. Cargo requests
are prioritized according to need with delivery timeframes ranging
from 24 to 72 hours. Utilizing fewer boats to deliver materials more
efficiently is the fundamental principle, requiring a well-orchestrated
logistics support plan.
“At the start of the project, we had almost 100 vessels, but by applying this new concept, we have reduced our needs to 80. This represents
a huge cost savings,” said Mohanad F. Alkhateeb, a captain and senior
planner onboard the MOSSV.
He explains that his role is to receive the cargo requirements of the
rigs through the company’s SAP system. He works through a planner
and shipper, who organize everything that happens from the staging
area to the boats. Selected vessel type depends on the rig location. For
example, shallow-water rigs need a vessel suitable for shallow-water or
some require dynamic positioning system capabilities in order to keep
the vessel in position without dropping anchor.
While an assessment of performance is in its
infancy, tangible benefits have already been ex-
perienced in terms of reliability, rig supply, ves-
sel utilization, fuel consumption, and response
time to well control issues, according to Abdul
Hameed Al Rushaid, acting executive direc-
tor, Drilling & Workover, Saudi Aramco.
The idea of the hub was conceived due to
the unprecedented growth of upstream activities.
With some of the world’s largest oil and gas fields are lo-
cated in the Arabian Gulf, Aramco believes the floating hub represents
a step change in operational thinking.
What started as a pilot project supporting rigs for Aramco’s Manifa
field was later expanded to other developments in the Arabian Gulf
such as Zuluf, Murjan, and Safaniyah. As the company plans to double
its gas production within the next decade, it feels its non-associated
offshore gas field operations will benefit from this transformed supply
The drivers for change are similar to those of the oil fields, it says:
deliver materials and support complex and expanding operations in an
efficient way with processes to mitigate risks associated with offshore
Before the MOSSV was introduced, a dedicated ratio of approximately four vessels per gas rig was employed. Now, with the introduction of the floating hub, Aramco expects to further optimize its existing
offshore supply fleet by approximately 50%. •
Aramco’s floating hub supports drilling operations
Saudi Aramco recently commissioned a new marine offshore floating
hub off the northeast coast of the Arabian Gulf to support offshore
drilling operations. A rededicated oil tanker serves as a floating pier,
allowing support vessels to shuttle back and forth between tanker and
rigs. (Image courtesy Saudi Aramco)