The Prelude FLNG facility leaving the SHI Shipyard in South Korea
Asia Australia Eniday Gas Liquid Natural Gas

Going big with floating production vessels

Oil and gas Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels have opened up hydrocarbon reserves too deep for the reach of rigs and often too far from seabed pipelines and coast…

The current population of over 270 oil FPSOs and four mega LNG floating production and storage units, harvest oil and gas from subsea wells at depths of between a 1,000 and 2,000 meters, many miles from shore. The stored processed oil and super cooled gas is most often collected by tanker. Oil FPSOs are now found in the North Sea, the Mediterranean and offshore Australia, Brazil, West Africa and Asia Pacific. Four mega LNG FPSO, also known as FLNG (Floating Liquid Natural Gas) are located in the Barents Sea, off Australia and Sarawak.

The cost of oil FPSOs vary according to size and the age at which they were converted. Around 70 percent of oil FPSOs are converted crude-oil carriers, the remaining 30 percent are new, and therefore more expensive, purpose-built vessels. A high production purpose-built FPSO for a large oil field off Africa costs between $700 million and $800 million. For example, Total’s Girassol oil FPSO, now operating 210 km off Angola cost $756 million. These sums are, however dwarfed by Goliath , the $1.1 billion, floating oil production and storage vessel, now 88 km off northern Norway in the Barents Sea.

The floating production and storage vessels for LNG are the costliest and most are located offshore Australia. Shell’s $14 billion Prelude floating LNG production and storage unit, moored approximately 475km off Western Australia, is the latest in a surge to bring new LNG capacity to Australia.In addition, Petronas’s $10 billion FLNG facility, the PFLNG Satu, is producing LNG from the Kanowit gas field offshore Sarawak.

What are they?

In essence, FPSOs are floating production vessels, which harvest oil or gas from subsea wells for processing in their topsides before storage in a double hull, in readiness for collection by shuttle tankers or onward dispatch by pipeline. A variety of oil FPSOs are now operational – from the basic FSO (Floating Storage and Offloading) vessel to the typical FPSO (Floating Production, Storage, and Offloading) vessel graduating to the more complex FDPSO (Floating Drilling Production, Storage, and Offloading). In the case of gas, three FLNG (Floating Liquid Natural Gas) vessels are currently operational around the world, soon to be joined by another off Australia.

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