Global FPSO fleet growing at a 34% annual rate

Distribution of the world's FPSO fleet [15,673 bytes] Oil company to contractor comparison. [2,923 bytes] Growth of the FPSO fleet. Note: Fleet totals for 1991-2001 include FPSOs committed for construction as of September 1998. i.e. no projection for future growth with respect to orders placed in 1999-2001. [4,605 bytes]

47 units under contract, 24 under construction

Marshall DeLuca
Business Editor
With no projection for future growth, the floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel fleet will consist of 71 vessels by the year 2001. According to Bluewater Offshore, 47 FPSOs are now in operation around the world. An additional 24 units are on order or currently under construction.

Bluewater has released information tracking the existing and committed-for-construction FPSO fleet as of September 1998. Seventy-one vessels are listed as entering the FPSO fleet by 2001. Forty-seven are in operation, and 24 were committed for construction, as of September 1998.

The Asia-Pacific region is by far the most active FPSO region with 26 vessels. Twenty-two FPSOs are in operation and four are planned or under construction. The East China Sea area is the most active in the region, with 10 in operation.

The North Sea follows closely, with 22 vessels. Thirteen of the FPSOs there are in operation and nine are planned or under construction. West Africa holds third place, with 10 (six in operation and four planned), and Brazil follows with eight (four in operation and four planned).

Fleet owners

Oil companies own a majority of the world's fleet. Forty-two vessels are owned by oil companies, with the remaining 29 contractor-owned. In a comparison between the North Sea and the rest of the world, North Sea contractors own 12 vessels, compared with 17 in the rest of the world. As far as oil companies are concerned, North Sea oil companies own 10 vessels, compared to 32 in the rest of the world.

There is a tie between contractors who own the largest number of FPSO units. SBM and Bluewater each have a fleet of four vessels. However, two of Bluewater's fleet are still under construction, whereas all four of SBM's FPSOs are in operation.

On the oil company side, Petrobras leads the field with six company-owned vessels and an additional two on contract. BHP follows with four vessels.

Fleet trends

Based on this information, the FPSO fleet is growing at an annual rate of 34%. As shown in the accompanying graph, the FPSO fleet has been on the rise since 1992, and has climbed quickly in the period from 1996 to the present.

It is expected that the FPSO fleet will continue to grow with the expanding number of deepwater fields being discovered and the need of an FPSO for production.

Another factor, not included in the information, is the number of deepwater drillships being built that can be easily converted for FPSO usage. This will allow a quick shift in the market if needed.

A third factor that may also boost construction will be the growing pressure on the Gulf of Mexico for FPSO usage. If FPSOs do enter US Gulf waters, a strong growth rate in the fleet is sure to follow.

Copyright 1998 Oil & Gas Journal. All Rights Reserved.

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