OFFSHORE EUROPE Atlantic corridor likely hotspot for FPSO development.

Frank Frazer Corresponding Editor - Scotland Exploeded view of the FPSO vessal Petrojarl IV, which will be used to develop the Foinaven discovery west of Shetland. Although it is less than a year since approval was given for the UK's first Atlantic oil project, the deepwater challenge has spurred a flurry of activity to develop floating production technology. After studying various types of steel and concrete floaters, British Petroleum opted for monohull designs to tackle water depths

Frank Frazer
Corresponding Editor - Scotland

Although it is less than a year since approval was given for the UK's first Atlantic oil project, the deepwater challenge has spurred a flurry of activity to develop floating production technology.

After studying various types of steel and concrete floaters, British Petroleum opted for monohull designs to tackle water depths greater than 1,000 ft at the first two Fields declared commercial in the new oil province.

But there was a significant change in approach between the plans drawn up for the Foinaven development, due to produce the first Atlantic oil by early 1996, and the proposals for the Schiehallion Field it wants to put on stream by late 1997.

From initial reservoir studies based on 3D seismic and well results, BP estimates that each of the fields has recoverable reserves in a range of 250-500 million bbl.

But the Foinaven project has been launched as a first phase operation which will drain only part of the reservoir at a maximum rate of 85,000 b/d. BP plans to install the world's first deepwater 4D seismic system, providing time-lapse data from geophones set permanently in the seabed, to help monitor fluid movement for reservoir management and future planning purposes (See article in the July 1995 edition of Offshore Magazine for further information on this 4D project).

Comparison

  • Schiehallion development:In contrast with Foinavens partial development, Schiehallion is being planned from the outset as a full-field development with flow rates up to 170,000 b/d from a main reservoir and satellites drained by subsea completions linked to the floating system. Schiehallion will also be less of a fast-track project than the Foinaven for which a target of first oil within 15-18 months was set when the initial contract was placed.

    A lead time of at least 2-1/2 years has been allowed to put Schiehallion on stream, based on plans for a purpose-built FPSO submitted by an alliance of Brown & Root, Single Buoy Moorings, and the Belfast shipyard of Harland & Wolff.

    The plans, due to be submitted for final approval by the six equity partners in Schiehallion by late 1995, are also expected to propose funding the FPSO as a capital purchase, compared with the leasing arrangement which BP and Shell, the partners in Foinaven, made with Golar-Nor.

  • Foinaven development: Norway's Golar-Nor will provide the Petrojarl IV as a floating production, storage, and offtake (FPSO) system for BPs Foinaven. The Astano yard in northern Spain was commissioned by Golar-Nor to convert a Finnish-built vessel into an FPSO, based on technology configurations pioneered for Petrojarl I. The Petrojarl I vessel is at present on station at ARCO's Blenheim Field, after earlier use at other small North Sea discoveries.

Schiehallion contract

Selection of Harland & Wolff to provide the purpose-built FPSO for Schiehallion was welcomed by Tim Eggar, the UK's industry and energy minister. Earlier this year, he accepted a recommendation from a working group that oil companies should regard the Belfast yard as the prime site for FPSO construction.

As the alliance deal was being finalized, the former Swan Hunter warship yard in north-east England - also mentioned by the working group as a possible site for FPSO construction - emerged as another contender for future orders after its takeover by THC, which previously carried out offshore fabrication at a yard in Hartlepool.

The success of Harland & Wolff in winning the first order for a UK-built FPSO gives a boost to government efforts to regenerate industry in the wake of the Northern Ireland peace initiative. But BP's programs manager Colin MacLean was keen to stress there were no easy deals or behind-the-scenes coercion leading to the Belfast yard being included in the alliance.

"Harland & Wolff has won this contract fully and fairly on its own merits. It's a sound straight business deal which shows the yard can compete in the global market," he said.

The yard's links with BP's offshore activities date back to the 1960s when it built the Sea Quest semisubmersible rig which made the first oil find in UK waters. In 1988, it completed Seillean, BP's single-well oil production systems (SWOPS), which was a forerunner of the latest generation of production ships.

After a period in state ownership, the yard was the subject of a management and employee buyout in 1989 in association with the Norwegian shipping group Fred Olsen which became the principal shareholder.

Most of its recent orders have been for tankers and bulk carriers assembled in a dry dock, flanked by covered steel-cutting and fabrication facilities, which has capacity to handle vessels of up to 1.2 million tons deadweight if such demand should arise.

With ample spare land around the yard for further development, the company hopes the move into the FPSO market will encourage expansion of ancillary industries, which will create further employment, in addition to securing the jobs of its 1,400 employees.

Per Nielsen, Harland & Wolff's chairman and chief executive, said the company was pursuing other potential contracts in its efforts to establish a presence in the FPSO market.

"We have developed a range of cost-effective design solutions in the 650,000-850,000-bbl capacity range which includes a high degree of flexibility with regard to the accommodation and turret arrangements. In addition, alternative solutions, above or below these benchmarks, can be designed with minimal modifications to established standards," he said.

Copyright 1995 Offshore. All Rights Reserved.

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