by Dr Roger Knight. Data Manager Infield Systems.
Steep learning curve for FPSO use, but knowledge has value
ONLY three or four years ago, FPSOs seemed to be the development type of choice for many operators, cheap, clean, efficient and with no nasty decommissioning costs when the field they were operating on was no longer economic to produce, writes Dr Roger Knight.
They could sail away to begin life anew on another field, saving immense up-front Capex costs second time around.
Unfortunately for many companies taking this road, practice has not kept in-step with theory and massive cost overruns have been the order of the day leading to a liquidity scissors crisis as the price of oil has fallen and costs have gone up.
Similar look-alike development scenarios, by the same company, have not always paid equal dividends.
For example Amerada Hess's experiences at Fife/Fergus compared with Durward/Dauntless and Statoil's Lufeng project against its Connemara prospect have varied greatly.
The learning curve has been steep indeed.
By now a great deal of knowledge of FPSO operations, both in the construction and production phases, has been gained and it is a good time to take stock.
A comparison of Tables 1 and 2, (please contact Infield) contrasting the development scenarios planned for fields under consideration over the next five years for shallow, (in this case less than 300 m of water) and deepwater fields, (300m or deeper) is instructive.
It shows that fixed platform developments still predominate in company plans, if the waters are shallow, except for the Petronius and Virgo platforms in the deep Gulf of Mexico.
Subsea satellite tiebacks are, however, the preferred solution in deeper waters, even if, as in the Malampaya project in the Philippines, the field's host platform is placed in much shallower water.
or fields where a floating development option is under consideration, only 5% of the shallow water market is involved whereas about 40% of deepwater developments could use a floater of one type or another.