Powerful anchor-handling tug supply vessels will be needed to support 24 newly sanctioned FPSO projects into 2020
Global activity in the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) market is booming, with as many as two dozen awards for projects expected between now and 2020. This is creating a wellspring of new activity for ocean towage companies and anchor-handling supply vessels.
In August, Dutch ocean towing provider ALP Maritime Services was contracted by MODEC and CNR International Sarl to provide station-keeping and anchor-handling support for the FPSO Baobab Ivoirien MV10, operating in 970 m of water off the Ivory Coast on the west coast of Africa. With a storage capacity of 2M barrels of oil, production capacity of 70,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) and gas production of 75M standard cubic feet per day (scfd), the FPSO has been operating since 2005. Baobab Ivoirien MV10 is a deepwater turret-moored FPSO connected via an external turret mooring system to a series of subsea manifolds.
A year earlier, ALP Maritime had been contracted by Boskalsis for station-keeping for Total’s Egina FPSO that operates in ultra-deepwater off of Nigeria.
For the FPSO Baobab Ivoirien MV10 contract, ALP Maritime Services deployed one of the world’s most powerful anchor-handling tug supply (AHTS) vessels, its 302-tonne bollard pull ALP Keeper, alongside the 198-tonne bollard pull ALP Ippon for the nine-day project.
Built in 2018 by Japan’s Niigata Shipbuilding & repair, ALP Keeper is an Ulstein SX157 AHTS vessel, specially designed in close collaboration with ALP Maritime Services for towing massive offshore structures for long hauls. It has a fuel capacity of 3,400 m3 – enough to allow it to tow at full power for 45 days, enabling it to transport FPSOs and offshore drilling rigs thousands of kilometres from fabrication yards for delivery.
Combined with its dynamic positioning class 2 capability, ALP Keeper’s impressive bollard pull allows it to undertake tows of the heaviest offshore structures. Completing its outfitting, this powerful tug has a stern roller, three-drum winch with 400-t hoisting capacity and chain lockers for rig chain. ALP Keeper was the last of four Future-class AHTS vessels delivered from September 2016 to February 2018. All built to DNV GL Clean Design and Ice Class 1B notations, the other three AHTS vessels sporting football-themed monikers are ALP Striker, ALP Defender and ALP Sweeper.
All four of the 300+ tonne bollard pull Future-class AHTS vessels were deployed in April 2018 for station keeping during the installation of the deepwater Kaombo-Norte FPSO in offshore Angola.
ALP Keeper and ALP Ippon also paired up in June on a month-long project in the UK North Sea for position keeping of the Shell Curlew FPSO during the vessel’s disconnection from the subsea trees, risers and mooring lines, in preparation for its decommissioning.
Originally built at the Odense Steel Shipyard in Denmark in 1983 as a tanker, the vessel was converted to an FPSO at A&P Tyne shipyard, while the fabrication, construction and installation of the topsides was carried out by AMEC. Shell deployed the FPSO to the Curlew field in 1997.
The FPSO arrived at the Port of Dundee in June to undergo cleaning and waste disposal by Augean North Sea Services in preparation for being fully decommissioned. It will be scrapped in Turkey.
Brazil hotbed of FPSO activity
Driven by investment from international E&P companies Petrobras, ExxonMobil, Equinor, Premier Oil, Enauta and Karoon Energy, South America has emerged as a hotbed of FPSO activity. Of the 24 newly-sanctioned FPSO projects, 12 are in South America, with Brazil set to award seven in 2020, according to Rystad Energy.
One of the leading providers of floating production solutions for the offshore oil and gas market, MODEC, has 18 FPSOs in operation and another four under construction, three for operation offshore Brazil and the fourth for offshore Mexico.
One of its vessels is the FPSO Fluminense, located in about 740 m of water in the Bijupira and Salema fields in the Campos basin off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Maersk Supply Service will provide an integrated mooring lines life extension solution for Fluminense, including project management, engineering, interface management and offshore execution.
“This is an important milestone for Maersk Supply Service both locally in Brazil, and globally, as we continue to grow our integrated solutions business,” says Maersk Supply Service head of integrated solutions Olivier Trouve. “From the start of the engineering phase, we have set up a centralised project team together with our customer to ensure seamless alignment.”
With the offshore phase expected to commence in December, the project includes heading control of the FPSO, replacement of mooring lines and installation and hook up of the new mooring components.
Subsea support vessel Maersk Achiever, along with one to two Maersk L-class AHTS vessels, will mobilise to Brazil following the completion of a mooring lines replacement project offshore West Africa.
Designed for deepwater anchor handling and mooring operations, rig towing, subsea and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) work, Maersk has six L-class AHTS vessels in its fleet. The powerful vessels, Maersk Lancer, Maersk Laser, Maersk Launcher, Maersk Leader, Maersk Lifter and Maersk Logger, each have a bollard pull of 252 tonnes. Each L-class AHTS vessel has an overall length of 90.3 m, beam of 23 m, depth of 9.5m and draught of 7.8 m, with a clear deck area of 810 m3, accommodation for 70 and DP-class 2 capability. Four medium-speed diesel engines generate a total of 23,500 bhp, driving two controllable-pitch propellers. Two 500-t double drum anchor handling and towing winches, bolstered by two 145-t secondary winches, facilitate rig repositioning operations.
While it has the same hull dimensions and propulsion system as the L-class AHTS vessels, SSV Maersk Achiever has a bollard pull of 271 tonnes. Also quite evident are its large 250-tonne active heave compensation crane, 625-t anchor-handling winch, two 400-t towing winches and its mezzanine deck where it houses two WROVs.
Long-term contract supporting first deepwater FLNG
Ocean towage and marine services provider Smit Lamnalco is a 50-50 partnership between Dutch marine construction, offshore, dredging and port infrastructure giant Boskalis and the Saudi and Kuwaiti conglomerate Rezayat Group. Under a 10-year, fixed-term contract, Smit Lamnalco will provide integrated marine services to the world’s first deepwater floating LNG (FLNG) facility, Coral Sul FLNG, now under construction for the Eni-led Coral South project in Mozambique. Once completed, Coral Sul FLNG will operate offshore north Mozambique in water of 2,000 m. The contract contains several long-term options.
While the spread for the contract is not yet determined, Smit Lamnalco anticipates deploying three fit-for-purpose, newbuild 95-tonne bollard pull offshore tugs, providing escort and berthing services for LNG carriers to the FLNG facility. A fourth newbuild offshore support vessel (OSV) will provide logistical and marine services support.
“We are looking forward to working in partnership with Coral FLNG to deliver safe and reliable marine services,” said Smit Lamnalco chief executive Robert Jan van Acker. “We are proud that our in-depth knowledge of providing marine services to LNG facilities on- and offshore as well as over five decades of local content development expertise all around the world has been recognised by our client,” he added.
Coral FLNG was established by Eni and Area 4 Partners: ExxonMobil, CNPC, Kogas, Galp Energia and ENH. Coral Sul FLNG is an essential part of Eni-led Coral South Project, which will initiate production from the giant Coral reservoir, which has gas reserves of 450Bn m3.