FPSO Introduction

The first floating production systme(FPS) ever installed was at the argyll field in the UK sector of the North Sea in 1975. The floating platform was constructed by converting the transworld 58 semisubmersible drilling rig for production. FPSs have since then become a common solution for developing deepwater fields around the world as floating solutions are superior to fixed installations in terms of development cost when the water depth exceed 150~200 meters. Fields developed using floating installations with subsea wells, however, generally have lower recovery rates than fixed platform facilities, but in terms of value this is compensated by the cost savings.

The 1990s were a period of strong growth in the number of FPS installations with the European and North American markets increasing rapidly while the Asian and African markets started to emerge. Global production from FPSs reached 8.9 mboepd in 2010 up from 8.8 mboepd in 2009, and this is expected to grow to 11.4 mboepd in 2020. Liquid share of total production was 85% in 2010, but this share is expected to decrease towards 79% in 2020 as new deepwater gas developments come on stream. FPS growth in recent years has been strong with the total market going from USD 6.0 billion in 2005 to USD 12.3 billion in 2008. 2009 and 2010 saw decreases in activity due to project delays in the wake of the financial crisis, especially in the US GoM and West Africa. Strong growth is expected to follow, taking the total FPS market to USD 25.8 billion in 2015.

The dominant type of FPS is the Floating Production, Storage, and Offloading(FPSO) vessel that constituted around 70% of the FPS market in 2010. FPSOs have histrocially been constructed by converting tanker vessels for oil production purposes, but in recent years there has been a shift towards purpose built FPSOs designed for give field developments. The need for these purpose built FPSO‘s has arisen as a consequence of increasingly complex developments due to deeper and deeper waters, harsher climates, and increasingly complex subsurface and resorvoir conditions. While the FPSO has been the preferred floating production soultion in most of the world, other solutions have been applied in the US GoM, particularly Spars and Tension Leg Platforms(TLPs). The Spar design is similar to a buoy with a long cylindrical underwater section that ensures platform stability. A TLP has a hull similar to a floating drilling rig but with tension legs anchoring the platform to the seabed. Semis are similar to TLP’s but without the tension legs.

Semis are often used for deepwater gas developments, particularly in Europe and Asia. One recent expample of this is the Gjoa development off Norway. term trnds in platform development, we can see depth, throughtput etc. ). The choice of development option is no longer as restricted by the design capability as was often the case during the earlier phases of deepwater development.

The key differentials that decisions now hinge more upon include amongst others :

  • Dry or Wet Tress
  • Storage requirement
  • Available infrastructure
  • Operator familarity
  • Field life
  • Cost
  • Development plan (hub, tie-backs etc,)

There are currently several Floating Liquiefied Natural Gas (FLNG) schemes on the drawing board, especially in Asia and Austrailia. Recenetly, Shell made the final investment decision on the Prelude FLNG project in Austraila. The prelude FLNG design can be used for similar developments in the future. The consortium Technip/Samsung Heavy Engineering have entered into a frame agreement with Shell to develop up to 10 FLNG units over a 15 year viable for development.

The global mobile offshore drilling rig fleet will surpass 800 units in 2013. During the financial crisis few newbuilds were ordered. However, from the fall of 2010, many new orders have been placed. This building activity has been driven by increasing oil prices and the growing demand for offhshore, and in particular deepwater, drilling activity, for both exploration and development purposes. The globla floater fleet is sufficiently large to deliver on demand through 2014. From 2015 onwards, demand will outstrip supply unless new rigs are built. Demand, however, depends on new acreage being awarded with ensuing exploration, appraisal and development acitivities. With no new acreage awards, the current fleet will be large enough to cover demand. However, as the world shows no signs of showing oil consumption and new sources are mostly found in deep waters, it is likely that there will be a new building boom with rig deliveries beyound the time frame of this report.

Specific characteristics

Floating units have been deployed in a number of specific offshore services to find, to develop and to produce oil & gas. For example as mobile drilling rigs, service vessels and oil production platforms. The most common types are:

  • The semi-submersible, the SEMI is a specialized vessel with good stability and sea keeping characteristics. The semi-submersible vessel design is commonly used in a number of specific offshore roles such as for offshore drilling rigs, oil production platforms – and heavy lift cranes. Dependent on its role, the semisubmersible can be dynamically positioned or spread moored. The semi- ubmersible obtains its buoyancy from ballasted, pontoons located below sea level. Structural columns connect the pontoons and operating deck, which can be located high above the sea level – and waves due to the good stability of the concept.


  • The tension-leg platform, the TLP is a vertically moored floating structure used for the oil & gas production in water depths normally greater than 300 meters. The platform is permanently moored by means of group of tethers (i.e tension legs) at each of the structure’s corners. The tension leg design eliminates virtually all vertical motion of the platform, allowing the platform to have dry wellheads and X-mas trees on deck, connected directly to the subsea wells by rigid risers. This allows a simpler well completion and easier access for well intervention.


  • The SPAR platform is a deep-draft floating caisson, which is a hollow cylindrical structure similar to a very large buoy. The spar relies on a traditional spread mooring system, to maintain its position. The SPAR design is now being used for drilling and production. The distinguishing feature of a spar is its deep-draft hull, which produces very favorable motion characteristics compared to other floating concepts. Low motions and a protected center-well also provide an excellent configuration for deepwater operations.


  • The floating production, storage and offloading unit, the FPSO, is a floating vessel designed to receive hydrocarbons produced from nearby platforms or subsea template, separate the oil and gas and water, and store the oil until it can be offloaded onto a tanker. The FPSOs are particularly effective in remote or deepwater locations where subsea pipelines are not cost effective. Generally (but not always) the flowlines and risers are connected to a major component of the vessel, called a Turret, which allows the vessel to weather-wane. Alternatively, in benign areas like West Africa the FPSO can be spread moored and risers connected to the vessel at the side.


  • •  In 2011 Shell announced the development of a Floating Liquefied Natural Gas facility, FLNG, situated off the coast of Western Australia and is due for completion in Whenit is completed, it will be the largest floating offshore facility ever made. The Norwegian based technology providers have a well established reputation and a significant market share in the global fleet of offshore floating units and offshore service vessels, like semisubmersibles, TLPs, SPARs FPSOs and FLNGs. In this catalogue we present the cluster of INTSOK partners that provide products and services towards this market. The catalogue will be used to facilitate a joint effort from Norwegian based industry to promote the cluster capabilities towards: