In the Deep End – Brazilian Challenges in FPSO Fabrication & Logistics
This article appeared in the May/June 2013 Offshore Industry (OSI), Vol. 6, Issue 2. Words by John Gauldie, Copyright Yellow & Finch Publishers.
SBM Offshore‘s resharpened focus on FPSOs is paying dividends. In March the company booked a large contract for two new Petrobras-chartered, high-spec conversions to operate Brazil’s deepwater pre-salt production development in the Santos Basin. In the same month OSI’s Executive Editor Dennis Vinkoert visited SBM Offshore’s new Brazilian yard where a substantial part of the FPSO topside fabrication will take place. Despite Brazil’s local content requirements, these complex FPSOs involve technology suppliers from around the world, resulting in thousands of shipments and a truly global project execution.
Petrobras and its partners have awarded a letter of intent to the consortium owned by SBM Offshore and Queiroz Galvão Óleo e Gás S.A. for the 20-year charter and operation of two FPSOs. The assets are for production development approximately 300 km off Rio de Janeiro at Lula Alto and Lula Central, at a depth of around 2,300 m.
Local content requirements in the contract are 65 percent for each FPSO. Bruno Chabas, CEO of SBM Offshore: “We are delighted to have been selected by Petrobras for this significant project and look forward to starting work on the FPSOs, which are amongst the largest ever built by SBM Offshore. Jointly, the two FPSOs represent the biggest contract ever awarded to us, underlining our unparalleled expertise and leading position in the market for largescale tanker conversions to FPSOs.”
SBM Offshore will be in charge of the construction of the two FPSOs with planned delivery expected by end 2015 and early 2016 respectively. Along with its engineering and logistics partners, SBM Offshore’s Dutch execution centre in Schiedam has the capacity to design two FPSO projects simultaneously. SBM Offshore is currently completing FPSO projects Paraty and Ilhabela, also for Petrobras.
New Generation FPSOs
SBM Offshore is rising to the technological challenges of deepwater, high pressure presalt production with not only substantial upgrades to the ageing FPSOs operating in Brazil but also investment in a new generation of high-spec, deepwater FPSOs.
In May the FPSO Cidade de Paraty is expected to begin production in the Santos Basin following completion at Keppel’s BrasFELS yard. In October, the even larger FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela arrives in SBM Offshore’s new joint venture yard in Brazil for completion.
FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela will operate in depths up to 2,100 m, handling 150,000 bpd and equipped with complex gas technology for processing 6 million m3/day. The two new conversions announced in March will have similar production capacity. As a result of the complex technology, the topside modules weigh a total of 23,000 t and reach up to four levels high, pushing the limits of design and engineering.
Global Engineering & Logistics
At Guangzhou Dockyards FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela’s core conversion work is nearing completion. The work in China includes a special mooring system add-on, inport/outport platform and main deck renewal, reinforced tank, refitted accommodation and engine room reconditioning, plus blasting and coatings.
Blue Water Shipping, which has provided all logistics in connection with the FPSO Cidade de Paraty project, also has the challenging task of providing logistics for FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela materials and equipment to China and Brazil. The project involves Blue Water Shipping›s offices in Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Singapore, Esbjerg, Rotterdam, Aberdeen and Houston. During the last 12 months the company has handled close to 1,200 shipments for the project. The majority has been from Europe to the yard in China, but also many shipments from the Far East and Europe to Brazil. This summer the vessel will sail from Guangzhou to the Brasa yard in Brazil where the final part of the conversion will take place.
In mid 2012 work began in the Brasa yard on FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela topside module fabrication. In October this year the converted hull will arrive from China for integration and commissioning at the yard’s FPSO integration quayside.
In 2011 SBM Offshore and its partner Naval Ventures Corp (part of the Synergy Group) began construction of the new 65,000m2 yard at Niterói near Rio de Janeiro. The venture is jointly owned and managed, and geared towards meeting the local content regulations set by the Brazilian authorities. The yard provides SBM Offshore with improved control and project management. Nevertheless, the enormous and complex Ilhabela project would be a challenge for even a highly experienced yard.
FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela is expected to go on stream in the second half of 2014. As the company starts the EPC contract for the two new Petrobras FPSOs, SBM Offshore will rely on its depth of experience in FPSO design, engineering and project execution to ensure Petrobras’ development plans remain on schedule.