Advantages of an FPSO – 6 Key Advantages of an FPSO

There are several advantages of an FPSO in the oil and gas industry. Here, we list six key advantages which include;

Advantages of an FPSO

Time – FPSOs can connect to any pipeline. In addition, when an existing oilfield is depleted, an FPSO can move to another location. This saves time and money and mitigates the need to build expensive permanent pipelines and facilities. As such, FPSOs make an ideal solution for smaller oil and gas fields that will be depleted in a matter of years.

Cost – With FPSO, O&G companies are not required to build permanent structures like pipelines and piled buildings. FPSOs have the capability to store processed oil and gas and offload it to shuttle tankers for transportation to refineries.

According to Investopedia, a purpose-built FPSO can cost north of $800 million, especially if their production capabilities exceed 250,000 barrels per day (BPD). Meanwhile, a traditional offshore oil platform can cost up to $650 million. While the initial cost of an FPSO is slightly higher, FPSOs prove to be more cost-effective in the long run.

The cost of a traditional offshore oil platform can skyrocket when other expenditures are taken into account, such as maintenance, well completion costs and platform decommissioning costs. 

Safety – FPSOs can be disconnected from the pipelines and oil wells they are moored to. This makes FPSOs a safer option in areas with severe weather conditions.

Convenience – Oil producers can lease the vessels, giving oil and gas companies greater flexibility over their assets ensuring they can react to market forces. An oil and gas producer can conceivably lease as many or as little FPSOs as they want. This kind of flexibility isn’t feasible with fixed assets which take years to build and finance. This not only saves costs but it bridges the gap between small and large oil and gas organisations, ensuring healthier competition.

More viable fields – Some oil and gas fields lack commercial viability due to weather hazards, the distance to the shore or the cost-inefficiency of building and maintaining traditional infrastructure. FPSOs mitigate this by being insensitive to deep-water and adverse weather.

Storage capabilities – FPSOs can store a substantial amount of oil and gas, increasing the commercial viability of hard to reach fields.

Limitations of FPSO

While there are numerous advantages to FPSO, it does have a few limitations.

Conversion time – Converting a tanker into an FPSO can take up to two years. While this is something to consider, it is still substantially faster than building a pipeline.

Self-competition – Companies may find that they are competing with their own pipeline-based infrastructure.

Initial Cost – The upfront cost of an FPSO can be more than the cost of building a large fixed offshore platform.

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Components of an FPSO – 8 Key Components of an FPSO Vessel

There are several Components of an FPSO that are important to proper functioning of the facility.

Here is a rundown of the core components of an FPSO vessel.

Components of an FPSO Vessel

Spread mooring: Spread mooring is a traditional mooring system, incorporating a number of mooring lines attached to the hull of the vessel. These mooring lines are anchored onto the seabed.

FPSO turret (weathervaning) – The turret is integrated into the FPSOs hull, so the hull weathervanes around the mooring system and the mooring line. This enables FPSOs to position the vessel favourably against the wind so that it remains bow to wind and weather.

A turret mooring system is critical for harsh weather conditions. In essence, the turret enables the FPSO to freely rotate while moored to various locations on the seafloor. 

Detachable FPSO turret – Many turret systems allow the turret to be disconnected from the vessel, but remain attached to the mooring lines on the seabed. This is particularly useful in situations such as hurricanes and storms, where the vessel needs to react quickly to external hazards.  Once the threat has been mitigated, the FPSO can return to the turret, reattach and continue operations. This mooring system is by far the most flexible.

Gas dehydration – Gas is often saturated with water vapour, which poses a threat to facilities. Gas dehydration removes the water that is associated with natural gas.

Gas compression – Natural gas must be treated to conform to commercial standards.

Water injection – Water injection is a process where water is introduced into a reservoir to encourage oil production.

Gas, water and oil separator – As water, gas and oil have different densities, they can be separated with gas rising to the top, water on the bottom and oil staying in the middle. Additional debris such as sand will settle at the bottom.

Seawater treatment – Sea water treatment involves removing sulfates and other unwanted elements from injection water.

Benefits of FPSO

Why have FPSOs become so important for oil & gas companies?

Conceptually, FPSOs have given oil and gas companies a lot of freedom and versatility with regards to exploration and extraction. FPSOs enables companies to produce oil & gas and explore increasingly remote areas at a cheaper price in comparison to traditional offshore oil and gas production and storage methods. 


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FPSO – A Guide to a Floating Production Storage and Offloading

What is FPSO? Floating Production Storage and Offloading is a core element of the oil & gas extraction and refinement process.

What is FPSO?

At its core, an FPSO facilitates the processing and storage of oil and gas at sea.  
It stands for floating production storage and offloading (FPSO). These vessels are used extensively by the offshore industry and have become one of the primary methods of oil and gas processing and storage. As its name suggests, an FPSO is a floating vessel that acts as a mobile offshore production and storage facility. They are typically employed and leased by oil and gas companies.  

The vessels themselves are equipped with processing equipment for the separation, storage and offloading of oil and gas that comes from sub-sea oil wells or platforms. When oil and gas is processed, it is safely stored in the FPSO until it can be offloaded onto a tanker or a pipeline for transportation ashore.  

Origins of Floating Processing Facilities

The first FPSO was a converted oil tanker, built by Shell in 1977. Before the time of FPSOs, oil and gas extraction was more difficult and inefficient.

Companies were only able to extract oil and gas from shallow fields, no more than a water depth of 50 metres. Oil and gas had to be transported to land via a subsea pipeline, which is economically unviable at water depths more than several hundred metres and in instances where the seabed oil and gas fields are hundreds of miles away from the shore.  

Oil and gas awaiting transport was stored in tankers called floating storage and offload units (FSO). FSOs were used to store extracted hydrocarbons (a mixture of oil, gas and water) and transport it from remote locations such as distant seabeds. However, FSOs can’t process oil and gas, which is where the FPSO comes in.

FPSO definition 

As onshore oil discoveries continue to decline, FPSOs will become increasingly more vital for the oil and gas industry. There are more than 200 FPSOs today operating around the globe. They’re less expensive than traditional offshore oil and gas platforms, more flexible, safer, and time-efficient. Here is a breakdown of the FPSO acronym:

Production – The “P” in FPSO is what separates these vessels from FSOs. Production refers to the processing of oil and gas. Hydrocarbons are produced in seabed wells and this is transported to the FPSO via flowlines and risers. The hydrocarbons are then separated into oil, gas, water and impurities via the production facilities on the deck of the FPSO.  

Flowlines – Flowlines carry hydrocarbons directly from seabed well. These can be flexible or rigid.

Risers – Developed for vertical transportation. This is the section of the line from the seabed to the topside.

Storage – Once the oil has been processed, it is transferred to cargo tanks in the double hull of the vessel.

Offloading – Offloading refers to transferring the gathered contents to additional transfer conduits. Crude oil that is stored in the vessel is then transferred to tankers and pipelines heading ashore. Gas is either transported to the shore via pipeline or recycled back into the field to increase production.

Design of Storage Facilities

In terms of design, most FPSOs take the form of a supertanker and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. The defining visual difference of an FPSO is the processing equipment that is stored aboard the vessel’s deck. Meanwhile, hydrocarbon storage facilities are typically situated  below the hull.

Traditional tankers can be converted to an FPSO, giving them an additional element of flexibility. In terms of mooring, the FPSO vessels can be anchored to multiple points on the sea floor, which is called spread morning, or via a central weather vane.

In addition to oil and gas processing equipment, FPSOs can be expected to have living quarters to provide accommodation for staff during long periods out at sea, along with control rooms, offices and recreational facilities.

Core Components of an FPSO vessel.

Spread mooring: Spread mooring is a traditional mooring system, incorporating a number of mooring lines attached to the hull of the vessel. These mooring lines are anchored onto the seabed.

FPSO turret (weathervaning) – The turret is integrated into the FPSOs hull, so the hull weathervanes around the mooring system and the mooring line. This enables FPSOs to position the vessel favourably against the wind so that it remains bow to wind and weather.

A turret mooring system is critical for harsh weather conditions. In essence, the turret enables the FPSO to freely rotate while moored to various locations on the seafloor. 

Detachable FPSO turret – Many turret systems allow the turret to be disconnected from the vessel, but remain attached to the mooring lines on the seabed. This is particularly useful in situations such as hurricanes and storms, where the vessel needs to react quickly to external hazards.  Once the threat has been mitigated, the FPSO can return to the turret, reattach and continue operations. This mooring system is by far the most flexible.

Gas dehydration – Gas is often saturated with water vapour, which poses a threat to facilities. Gas dehydration removes the water that is associated with natural gas.

Gas compression – Natural gas must be treated to conform to commercial standards.

Water injection – Water injection is a process where water is introduced into a reservoir to encourage oil production.

Gas, water and oil separator – As water, gas and oil have different densities, they can be separated with gas rising to the top, water on the bottom and oil staying in the middle. Additional debris such as sand will settle at the bottom.

Seawater treatment – Sea water treatment involves removing sulfates and other unwanted elements from injection water.

Benefits of FPSO

Why have FPSOs become so important for oil & gas companies?

Conceptually, FPSOs have given oil and gas companies a lot of freedom and versatility with regards to exploration and extraction. FPSOs enables companies to produce oil & gas and explore increasingly remote areas at a cheaper price in comparison to traditional offshore oil and gas production and storage methods. 


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Floating Liquefied Natural Gas – A guide to understanding FLNG

In oil and gas industry, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) is not just a term that rolls elegantly off the tongue but one also used to describe an offshore facility floating above a natural gas field.

FLNGs produce, liquefy, store and transfer liquefied natural gas via carrier ship to the mainland where both the market and the money is based.

FLNG technology can unlock gas resources from underwater gas fields that may once have been economically or environmentally challenging to obtain. This can help to meet growing demand for natural gas — the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon — which is set rise by more than half by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. Many natural gas resources are located in offshore fields, but geographic, technical and economic limitations make a number of these difficult to develop.

FLNG technology is designed to overcome these challenges. It is complementary to conventional onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) as it helps accelerate the development of gas resources to meet growing demand.

What is liquefied natural gas?                                          

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is natural gas, a mixture of methane and ethane, that has been cooled down to liquid form so it can be easily transported. In its liquid state, LNG takes up around 1/600th the volume of natural gas in its gaseous state. It is odorless, colorless, non-toxic and non-corrosive. Hazards, however, include flammability after vaporization into a gaseous state, freezing and asphyxia.

The liquefaction process removes dust, acid gases, helium, water and hydrocarbons that could cause difficulty downstream. Aboard an FLNG facility, natural gas produced from underwater fields is processed and chilled to -162° Celsius (-260° Fahrenheit). This shrinks its volume by 600 times to create LNG. The advanced design of facility’s on-board LNG plant packs a typical land-based LNG plant into around one quarter of its normal size.

Natural gas is mainly converted into LNG to achieve natural gas transport over the seas where laying pipelines is possible. LNG achieves a higher reduction in volume than compressed natural gas (CNG) which makes LNG cost efficient in marine transport over long distances. LNG is principally used for transporting natural gas to markets, where it is regasified and distributed as pipeline natural gas.

How does FLNG work?

The FLNG facility is moored directly above the natural gas field. It routes gas from the field to the facility via risers. The gas is then processed and treated to remove impurities and liquefied through freezing, before being stored in the hull. Ocean-going carriers will offload the LNG, as well as the other liquid by-products, for delivery to markets worldwide. The conventional alternative to this would be to pump gas through pipelines to a shore-based facility for liquefaction, before transferring the gas for delivery.

Safety on Floating Liquefied Natural Gas

Designers optimize safety on the facility by locating storage facilities and process equipment as far from crew accommodation as possible. The accommodation areas of visiting LNG carriers are also at maximum distance from critical safety equipment. Safety gaps have been allowed between modules of process equipment so that gas can disperse quickly in the event of a gas leak.

What are the benefits of FLNG?

Natural gas is relatively clean burning compared to other fossil fuels. It is also more easily found, cheaper and actually provides a number of environmental and economic advantages.

Firstly, there is no need for pipelines, compression units, dredging, jetty construction or an onshore LNG processing plant as processing is done at the gas field. This helps maintain marine and coastal environments. The facility is also able to be decommissioned and re-deployed elsewhere relatively easily.

Floating liquefied natural gas is more economically viable than pumping gas to the shore, opening new business opportunities for both developing countries and regions where disputes would make pipelines impractical. As well as this, the role of LNG as direct use fuel without regasification is growing slowly but surely.

What are the drawbacks of FLNG?

When it comes to the design and construction of the FLNG facility, every element of a conventional LNG facility needs to fit into a space around one quarter the size, whilst maintaining safety and flexibility of production. Containment systems and product transfers also need to withstand the effects of the wind and waves.

What is the history of Floating Liquefied Natural Gas?

Experimental development of offshore LNG production began in the mid-1990s. Mobil developed a FLNG production concept based on a square structure with a moon pool in the center, known as ’The Doughnut‘, in 1997. Following that, major projects conducted by the EU and major oil and gas companies made great progress in steel concrete hull design, topside development and LNG transfer systems. The first completed FLNG production facility was the PFLNG Satu, off the shore of Sarawak in Malaysia.

Since the mid-1990s, Shell has been working on its own FLNG technology. This includes engineering and the optimization of project developments in Namibia, Timor Leste/Australia, and Nigeria. In July 2009, Royal Dutch Shell signed an agreement with Technip and Samsung allowing for the design, construction and installation of multiple Shell FLNG facilities.

Shell’s Prelude facility is set to be the biggest one ever.

Prelude: What is the future of FLNG?

Launched in 2013, Prelude is Shell’s first FLNG facility. She recently reached a significant milestone when gas was introduced onboard for the first time. The Gallina, an LNG Carrier from Singapore, shipped the gas to the facility and utilities can now switch to run on gas rather than diesel.

Prelude is now on location, 475km (295 miles) north-north east of Broome, Western Australia, in around 250 metres of water. Once operating, Prelude FLNG will produce and liquefy natural gas from the Browse Basin. Once fully operational, the project will deliver LNG to Shell’s customers around the world while creating significant economic and social benefits for Australia. They include hundreds of jobs, tax revenues, businesses opportunities for local companies, and community programmes.

Prelude’s hull is 488 metres long (1,600 feet). Despite its large proportions, the floating liquefied natural gas facility will take up just a quarter of the footprint of an equivalent land-based LNG plant. She is designed to remain at sea for around 25 years in severe weather conditions and even withstand a category five cyclone. FLNG facilities can then be re-deployed to develop new gas fields.

FLNG technology offers countries a more environmentally-sensitive way to develop natural gas resources. Prelude will have a much smaller environmental footprint than land-based LNG plants, which require major infrastructure works. It also eliminates the need to build long pipelines to the mainland.

Conclusion

In conclusion, and over the lifespan of Prelude, the project is expected to add billions of revenue to Australia’s economy, create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, spend billions on Australian goods and services and improve the country’s balance of trade through export of LNG, LPG and condensate.

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Prelude FLNG Facility – Shell’s Largest Facility to Produce Gas

Prelude FLNG Facility is the world’s largest floating liquefied natural gas platform as well as the largest offshore facility ever constructed

What is the history of FLNG?

Experimental development of offshore LNG production began in the mid-1990s. Mobil developed a FLNG production concept based on a square structure with a moon pool in the center, known as ’The Doughnut‘, in 1997. Following that, major projects conducted by the EU and major oil and gas companies made great progress in steel concrete hull design, topside development and LNG transfer systems. The first completed FLNG production facility was the PFLNG Satu, off the shore of Sarawak in Malaysia.

Since the mid-1990s, Shell has been working on its own FLNG technology. This includes engineering and the optimization of project developments in Namibia, Timor Leste/Australia, and Nigeria. In July 2009, Royal Dutch Shell signed an agreement with Technip and Samsung allowing for the design, construction and installation of multiple Shell FLNG facilities.

Shell’s Prelude facility is set to be the biggest one ever.

Prelude – What is the future of FLNG?

Launched in 2013, Prelude is Shell’s first FLNG facility. She recently reached a significant milestone when gas was introduced onboard for the first time. The Gallina, an LNG Carrier from Singapore, shipped the gas to the facility and utilities can now switch to run on gas rather than diesel.

Prelude is now on location, 475km (295 miles) north-north east of Broome, Western Australia, in around 250 metres of water. Once operating, Prelude FLNG facility will produce and liquefy natural gas from the Browse Basin. Once fully operational, the project will deliver LNG to Shell’s customers around the world while creating significant economic and social benefits for Australia. They include hundreds of jobs, tax revenues, businesses opportunities for local companies, and community programmes.

Prelude’s hull is 488 metres long (1,600 feet). Despite its large proportions, the FLNG facility will take up just a quarter of the footprint of an equivalent land-based LNG plant. She is designed to remain at sea for around 25 years in severe weather conditions and even withstand a category five cyclone. FLNG facilities can then be re-deployed to develop new gas fields.

FLNG technology offers countries a more environmentally-sensitive way to develop natural gas resources. Prelude will have a much smaller environmental footprint than land-based LNG plants, which require major infrastructure works. It also eliminates the need to build long pipelines to the mainland.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is worth noting that over the lifespan of Prelude FLNG facility, the project is expected to add billions of revenue to Australia’s economy, create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, spend billions on Australian goods and services and improve the country’s balance of trade through export of LNG, LPG and condensate.

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SNE Deepwater Oil Field in Senegal

It is worth noting that SNE Deepwater Oil Field is located in the Rufisque, Sangomar and Sangomar Deep Blocks, which cover a combined area of 7,490km² within the Senegalese portion of the Mauritania-Senegal-Guinea Bissau Basin. The field is one of the world’s largest oilfields discovered in the last decade.

The project developers comprise Crain Energy (40%), Woodside Energy (35%), FAR (15%) and PETROSEN (10%), where Woodside Energy is the project operator.

The environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) for phase one of SNE project was completed in November 2018.

The project owners submitted the development and exploitation plan to the Senegalese Government in October 2018. FEED activities began in December 2018 following the approval by the Senegalese Minister of Petroleum and Energies.

Final investment decision (FID) for phase one is expected by mid-2019, while first oil from the project is anticipated to flow in 2022.

Production from phase one is expected to be around 100,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd).

SNE Deepwater Oil Field discovery and appraisal

The SNE deepwater oilfield was discovered in November 2014 with the drilling of the SNE-1 exploration well to a water depth of approximately 1,100m and a total depth of 3,000m. The well encountered a 95m gross oil-bearing column within upper Albian sandstones.

The oil field was further evaluated by drilling the SNE-2, SNE-3, SNE-4 and BEL-1 appraisal wells from November 2015 to May 2016.

The drilling and evaluation of the SNE-2 well was completed in January 2016. The well was drilled at a water depth of 1,200m and to a total depth of 2,800m within the Sangomar Block. Oil from the well flowed at 8,000bopd from the lower reservoir unit and at 1,000bopd from the shallower heterolithic reservoir unit during drill-stem testing (DST).

The drilling of the SNE-3 well was completed in March 2016. Oil from the well flowed at a maximum rate of 5,200bopd and had a main flow rate of 4,500bopd over a six-hour period during DST.

Completed in April 2016, the BEL-2 well encountered an oil column of 100m and confirmed the extension of reservoirs in the northern area of the oilfield.

The SNE-4 was drilled at a water depth of 942m and to a total depth of 2,944m within the Sangomar Block in May 2016. It encountered a gross oil column of 100m in the upper reservoir and confirmed the extension of reservoirs in the eastern extent of the oilfield.

Reserves at the West African oil field

As of August 2017, the contingent recoverable resources from the field were estimated to be 1C, 2C and 3C of 346 million metric barrels (MMbbl), 563MMbbl, and 998MMbbl respectively.

SNE Deepwater Oil Field Development Details

Phase one of the development project will feature a permanently moored floating, production, storage and production (FPSO) facility along with 23 oil production wells and associated subsea systems.

The FPSO, with a length ranging between 250m and 325m, will be installed at a water depth of 800m. The FPSO will also hold the tie-backs of the oil production wells, along with water injection and gas interjection wells.

The oil storage tank of the FPSO unit will have a capacity to hold 1,500,000 barrels of processed oil.

The subsea system will comprise wellheads and subsea trees, 9km to 22km in-line tees, up to six manifolds, flowlines and risers ranging from 50km to 150km (connecting to the FPSO), 15km to 50km of flowline end terminals, and 15km to 70km of umbilicals for the monitoring of wells.

Drilling rigs

The exploration wells were drilled with Transocean’s fifth-generation, dynamically-positioned, semi-submersible deepwater drilling rig named Cajun Express.

The appraisal wells were drilled using the seventh-generation dual-activity drillship named Ocean Rig Athena.

Contractors involved with the project

A subsidiary of Japan-based MODEC, MODEC International, was awarded the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract by Woodside Energy for the FPSO unit of the SNE project in February 2019.

A joint venture between OneSubsea, Schlumberger and Subsea 7, Subsea Integration Alliance, was awarded the FEED contract by Woodside Energy in December 2018 for the subsea infrastructures, comprising subsea umbilicals, risers and flowline systems (SURF).

The Senegalese Ministry of Petroleum and Energies awarded the advisory contract to Doris Engineering for the project in January 2019.

An environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) for the offshore development project was conducted by Earth Systems and Xodus Group.

Transocean provided the drilling rigs for exploration and appraisal activities for the SNE project.

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