JIPs to tackle safety issues for aging FPSOs

Aug. 12, 2021
ABS has brought together companies in the FPSO sector to address the safety challenges produced by an aging fleet.

Offshore staff

HOUSTON – ABS has brought together companies in the FPSO sector to address the safety challenges produced by a fleet where more than half of the vessels are over 30 years old and one-quarter are over 40 years old.

The ABS-led working group, consisting of Chevron, Shell Trading (U.S.) Co., Petrobras, MODEC and SBM Offshore as well as the Bahamas Maritime Authority, the Republic of the Marshall Islands Registry, and the US Coast Guard 8th District, has created five joint industry projects (JIPs) aimed at using technology to tackle a range of FPSO safety issues.

The JIPs will tackle composite materials repairs for offshore structures, life extension of wire ropes, gauging management software, applications of photogrammetry and 3D Lidar laser scanning, and the role of artificial intelligence in corrosion analysis.

Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and CEO, said: “The offshore industry is faced with an evolving risk profile, with opportunities to enhance protocols and systems to address these risks. With almost 60% of the global operating fleet of FPSOs classed by ABS, we are committed to addressing these issues and ensuring the ABS-classed fleet remains the safest and best performing fleet in the world.

“The challenges surrounding maintenance and structural fitness of aging FPSOs is not just a Class concern; rather, it is an industry challenge that requires the involvement and cooperation of all of the industry players.”

Ivar Houthuysen, SBM Assets Integrity Director, said: “Structural Integrity is one of our main Process Safety Barriers and we all face the same challenges on aging units. It is of utmost importance and in everybody’s interest to share experience, knowledge, ideas and that we agree on a best way forward to maintain structural integrity in a safe and efficient manner.”

Koichi Matsumiya, MODEC GM, Engineering and Deputy CTO, said: “We should recognize that offshore production facilities, which have only 50-years history, are not identical to ships, which have already matured over 6,000-years. It is important to humbly learn how to maintain the integrity of our FPSOs for long design lives through ‘trial and error’ and continuously incorporate new learnings into future FPSOs, including Class rules.”

ABS has also developed its rules, with a significant number of changes applicable to FPSOs, both for existing units and for new facilities. These rule changes are intended to address many of the risks related to aging FPSOs from both a design and a maintenance perspective.

Fifty-five FPSO units in the global fleet are reaching the end of their design life in the next five years, according to the company, a further five have life extension in place, with 19 more currently being evaluated for life extension. The efforts of this working group will produce outcomes that assist with the evaluation and potential acceptance of life extension.