With FPSOs expected to get the MMSí green light for GOM early in 2001, many oil companies are looking at shuttle tankers and articulated tug/barges (ATBs) as a possible mode of crude oil transportation from FPSOs to shore. Presently, it is not seen to be practical to extend the GOM pipeline infrastructure into the waterdepths between 4,500 and 10,000 feet, where much of current exploration is pegged. Hence, the need for FPSOs with shuttle tankers and ATBs has been tapped as a likely transport solution.
Several ABS Gulf clients have begun investigating a shuttle fleet or a combination shuttle/ATB fleet in the expectation that these ships could well become the primary transportation for FPSO oil. ABS investigated the top questions asked by their clients about shuttle tankers and ATBs for use with FPSOs.
One of the questions was: What is the difference between a shuttle tanker (oil carrier) that goes to an FPSO and a trading tanker? And the answer: Structurally, there is little difference between a shuttle tanker and a trading tanker. The shuttle tanker usually has special equipment for connecting to the FPSO. For example, the loading arrangement may have a manifold on the bow instead of at midship, and the fenders may be designed for greater movement. The new ABS Guide for Building and Classing Shuttle Tankers will be available for industry review in mid October.