Second Generation FPSO
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Second Generation FPSO


Second Generation FPSO

Many floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessels have run into problems due to budget over-runs and schedule slippage. Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that hulls are designed and built to shipyard practice and norms, while the topsides are built to offshore industry practice, which functions differently. A further complication is that each FPSO is different due to the variety of service needs resulting from each field's varying characteristics. Doris Engineering in Paris has approached the problem by designing a new concept for a "second-generation" style of FPSO, which can offset the high costs and schedule in various ways, including the ability to drill development wells early in a partly finished condition, while topsides assembly is completed onshore.

Doris' Octoplus concept consists of a:

  • Rectangular hull with oil storage situated below the water line (the storage reservoir functions in the oil-water displacement system rectangular columns installed in the pontoon, which extend vertically through the water column)
  • System of bearings on the column tops to support the decks
  • Deck structure on which topside modules are placed, either as self-floating barge/ box girder units or integrated into a space frame deck (if the latter is chosen, it would be installed using barges).

Two configurations
To date, two potential configurations have been studied, one with around 2 million bbl storage capability (VLCC-type) and one with 1 million bbl storage (Aframax-type). But the concept could be adjusted to build a version with as much as 4 million bbl storage. Locating oil storage within the submerged pontoon allows the waterplane area to be limited to the columns supporting the deck structure(s). This provides numerous advantages, compared with an FPSO, Doris claims, including:
  • Significantly reduced motion caused by wave impact, in particular heaving. This should extend the unit's operating life, as well as making it more comfortable to work on
  • Production wellheads can be located, if required, on the deck
  • Due to immersion of the pontoon, wave effects on the structure are subdued, leading to a benefit in terms of material quantities applied.

The storage compartments have been designed using the water-oil displacement principle. The advantage is that the storage tanks can be maintained at near-equal pressure with the exterior. Also, there is a constant draft in effect, with a minimal requirement for compensation ballasting (only in cases where the wellheads are installed on the deck).

Offshore, May 2001 by Richard D'Souza and Terje Clausen  

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