OLF FPSO Project 2002

A summary Report on FPSO Lessons Learned, gathered from 5 Norwegian FPSOs - May 2002
20 September 2002

Prepared for the Norwegian Oil Industry Association, OLF

The Offshore Management Centre, Robert Gordons University, Aberdeen


The Offshore Management Centre, RGU


OLF FPSO Project 2002

In 2001 OLF formed an Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) Experience Transfer Workgroup. The group’s objectives are to facilitate experience transfer between Norwegian FPSO operators and potential operators to reduce capital and operating costs and improve overall effectiveness. A decision was made in 2002 to interview Operating and Project staff involved in the 5 Norwegian FPSOs. The contractor RGU had been involved in a similar study in the UK and was therefore able to make comparisons between UK and Norwegian experience. A team from RGU, OLF and Marintec conducted the interviews and prepared the interview summaries. The team consisted of; Mark Capsey (RGU) David Llewelyn (OLF) Erik Dyrkoren (Marintek) The OLF workgroup members provided the essential guidance and support for the interviews and can be contacted if further information is required. The workgroup members were; Torbjørn Huslende (ExxonMobil) Nils Kjær (Norsk Hydro) Stig Mjøen (Statoil) Erik Vogsberg (Enterprise/Shell)

Stavanger 20.9.02

David Llewelyn Workgroup Facilitator OLF


The Offshore Management Centre, RGU


4. Appendix1 Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4: Table 5: Executive Summary Introduction Aims and objectives Methodology Key Issues Raised and Resolved / Lessons Learned Industry Challenges Norwegian FPSO Successes UKCS FPSO Lessons Learned Home Page Summary of Key Issues.OLF FPSO Project 2002 Contents 1. 8. 7. 2. 5. Lessons learned and Challenges Database of Norwegian FPSO Key Issues & Lessons Learned Norwegian FPSO Successes Most widely reported issues/problems relating to UKCS FPSO’s UK FPSO Checklist 3 4 4 4 6 17 23 25 27 28 37 66 67 68 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. 6. RGU 3 . 3.

Executive Summary In April/May 2002 the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) initiated a research project to collect specific lessons learned from the operation of five Norwegian Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessels (FPSO’s). Table 1 should be the subject of further consideration to determine the best way to jointly overcome that challenge. Norsk Hydro. 6 FPSOs specialists. Most lessons learned arise from the experience of problem resolution. Respondents highlighted 21 significant challenges that the FPSO community faced. this was not the primary emphasis in the information collection and respondents feedback. It would appear that during the first 18 months problems are often down to poor construction and commissioning after that issues are usually attributable to design. In Chapter 8 and Appendix Tables 4 and 5 some general and selected links have been drawn between the Norwegian and UK experiences. 4 Project Management specialists and 1 DNV representative. More comprehensive details of the issues/problems. 2 Production Supervisors. remedial actions and lessons learned are presented in the Appendix. 5 Maintenance Superintendents. operational issues (16%). The findings were jointly written up by the project team against 64 topics and categorised for importance and underlying causes. A similar research exercise into lessons learned was undertaken for UKCS FPSO’s in 2001. Interviewees included 3 OIMs.OLF FPSO Project 2002 1. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. RGU 4 . Using a structured survey tool the project team interviewed 23 representatives of ExxonMobil. Table 3. Approximately 350 FPSO related issues/problems were reported. construction issues (12%). Statoil and DNV. 2 Operations Superintendents. and commissioning issues (9%). Although selected feedback on Norwegian FPSO successes is presented in Chapter 7 and Appendix. Table 2. The most significant of these issues and related lessons learned are summarised in Chapter 5 and the Appendix Table 1. It is recommended that each of these issues presented in Chapter 6 and Appendix. Where the primary underlying cause was identified the percentage number of attributions were design issues (63%). The major output of this exercise to date is the creation of a comprehensive database of issues and problems that the Norwegian FPSO sector has faced up to and resolved and the key lessons learned.

but preferred to ‘brainstorm’ on the day. Experience suggests that the most valuable feedback is derived from respondents who have had a chance to consider the subject matter in advance. Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute. Manning & Safety. RGU 5 .OLF FPSO Project 2002 2. Sandvika and Stordal plus a videoconference with Harstad. Stavanger). Introduction The Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) initiated this preliminary research exercise. Layout. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. and to identify the underlying cause as either design. Operations & Support. Between 22-26 April 2002 the project team met with and interviewed 23 representatives of ExxonMobil. commissioning or operational related. Norsk Hydro (Varg) and Statoil (Asgård & Norne) and the DNV. Where remedial actions had been undertaken comments on the effectiveness of these were invited. Statoil and DNV in Stavanger. construction. The survey tool invited respondents to identify issues/problems related to FPSO’s. Information was collected from three operators responsible for five FPSO’s. Aims & Objectives The purpose of this joint industry initiative has been to collect lessons learned from the experiences of operators of Norwegian Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessels (FPSO’s). to assist common problem resolution and to seek to minimise repetition of mistakes. Finally respondents were asked to comment on any lessons learned. ExxonMobil (Balder & Jotun A). Offshore Management Centre. Methodology The project team together with contributions from the participating company representatives identified a suite of categories of FPSO issues for investigation. to rank their relative level of importance. Robert Gordon University. Mark Capsey (General Manager. Project Management. Therefore the survey tool was issued for completion to the interviewees some days prior to their formal interviews as a catalyst for meaningful discussion. The objective has been to ensure that project and operating experience is not lost but that generic lessons learned are widely disseminated to allow continuous improvement. It was observed however that the majority of participants had not completed the form before their interview. Codes/Classification. Trondheim). 4. It was undertaken by David Llewelyn (OLF Project Manager. Aberdeen) and Erik Dyrkoren (Research Engineer. Norsk Hydro. 3. These were formatted into a survey tool under seven main headings: Hull & Marine. Turret.

and actions. lessons learned and challenges still to be faced have been compiled in Table 1. RGU 6 . To best review the data it is recommended that the Appendix be viewed on-line. insights into the perceived successes of Norwegian FPSO projects are documented in Table 3. In this exercise a substantial amount of information related to FPSO operations has been gathered. A large number of hyperlinks have been created to assist users to move from one data set to another. construction. A particularly useful output from the UK research exercise was a checklist of design. The Norwegian interview notes have been evaluated and synthesised by the project team and compiled into a simple MS Excel database. Offshore Management Centre for a UK FPSO research exercise conducted in 2001. Part of this project has also involved linking the Norwegian FPSO experience with information collected by the Robert Gordon University. commissioning and operational issues. The most widely reported issues/problems relating to UK FPSO’s are presented in Table 4. A version of this is reproduced in Table 5 with hyperlinks to the Norwegian case study material.OLF FPSO Project 2002 The project team would like to thank all the participating companies for the excellent timetabling arrangements and the useful feedback supplied by all their representatives. From this considerable information set a summary of the key issues. The bulk of the raw data on which this interpretation is based is presented in Table 2. To maintain client confidentiality in this final report all indications of information source including specific FPSO references and mentions of vendors have been removed. Once reviewed the interviewee’s comments were collated by FPSO Company. Where given. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. These were then returned to each participating company for any additional feedback comments and amendments. that potentially could lead to problems during startup and operations. which if acknowledged might assist avoidance of decisions.

A joint North Sea workgroup including the authorities and classification societies has now led to a greater understanding of green water design requirements. In some cases cargo limits have been imposed. Waves over the bows have damaged stairways and broken accommodation windows. Cracks were detected through minor leaks. fitting appropriate stiffeners. No leakage has occurred outside the hull. Where the primary underlying cause was identified the number of attributions were design issues (97). In each case a programme of inspection and repair has been initiated. respondents were asked to rank them from 0 (not an issue) to 4 (critical issue) with respect to their overall level of importance. Future hull designs should make use of fatigue analysis in all critical and high-risk areas with construction detail subject to high levels of control. major (3) and moderate (2) are given below and have also been highlighted in the appendix. Green Water (Critical) Green water has affected 4 out of 5 FPSO’s. Key Issues Raised & Resolved / Lessons Learned In identifying issues/problems faced in the operation of their FPSO’s. operational issues (16) and commissioning issues (3). RGU 7 . Waves along the side have damaged ancillary equipment including fire stations. Conventional hull design and basic fatigue analysis has been unable to eliminate FPSO hull cracking in service. While this is not unusual for trading vessels the operational problems and costs of offshore repair make this situation undesirable. cable trays and pipework. Hull . making a manned entry and after cleaning. Model testing and environmental predictions appear to have been inadequate to allow designers to eliminate these green water effects. The situation is worsened by recent proposals from the unions that two people should not sleep in the 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. construction issues (20). raising bow walls and moving sensitive equipment appear to have reduced the problem.OLF FPSO Project 2002 5. Summaries of those issues perceived as critical (4). Hull & Marine A total of 172 hull and marine related issues/problems were reported. Retroactive repairs/redesign including the fitting of side panels.Strength (Critical) 3 out of 5 FPSO’s have experienced internal cracks between tanks. This involves taking the affected tanks and adjacent tanks out of service. Accommodation (critical) The FPSO accommodation has insufficient beds (4 out of 5 FPSO’s).

However these modifications have only partially solved the problem. RGU 8 . This lack of beds seriously hampers summer maintenance programmes and delays major repairs or upgrades. leaks and corrosion. Corrosion & Coatings (Major) Coatings are required in the base of tanks to minimise corrosion from free water. emergency power pack. Helicopters (Major) The forward positioned accommodation and helideck on all Norwegian FPSO’s is not optimum for helicopter landing . This combined with more attention to material selection. Since experiencing a number of failures in Cargo/Ballast pipework built to marine standards in the Far East. The economic impact of limited accommodation on operations and project (start-up and upgrades) is likely to be significantly greater than the cost of the extra beds and facilities.solid boom for 4 out of 5 FPSO’s was not optimum. Operators should have an ongoing inspection programme of tank bottom coatings and wall thickness measurement. DNV have tightened their inspection standards. installation of coolers. Ballast & Cargo Pipework (Major) Construction standards for cargo and ballast pipework have proven inadequate for FPSO’s.increased hydraulic power. so damage might become quite extensive before detection. Future FPSO’s should have 100+ usable beds and/or have provision for temporary expansion. The general view is that these cranes were not designed for active load handling but for in-port offloading. boom arc limit switches.misaligned approach. areas under solids build up and locations where coatings may crack as a result of hull strains. inspectability and access should mitigate the problem. no forward visual reference-point and increased vertical movement (cf. Cranes (Major) The choice of cranes . are insufficiently responsive when offloading a supply vessel or for working on equipment. A number of upgrades have been made or considered .OLF FPSO Project 2002 same cabin simultaneously. However it does have the advantage of clean air (no vessel-induced turbulence and no take off obstructions. Problems have included weld failures. If this coating fails or cracks SRB can build up causing significant pitting. This is a very difficult area to inspect. GRE pipework has had to be reinforced due to inadequate jointing. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. aft helidecks). These heavily built booms are strongly affected by the wind and due to their weight. Highest risk areas are slops tanks.

Following successful proof of concept. allowing active management of the mooring system and enabling movement of the chain wear point. Reliable weather and heave monitoring equipment should always be selected. Inert Gas System (Major) One FPSO was designed with Hydrocarbon blanketing to replace inert gas.000bbls. FPSO’s can often turn across the wind to facilitate a 45-degree approach upwind. Longitudinal separator placement has been successful. the extra waiting time is expensive. The permanently stopped design is simpler with reduced maintenance and lower capex. One FPSO was able to maintain full production in 12m significant wave heights. This newly introduced technology has proven successful. however there is as yet no straightforward method to inspect the top of the chain and service the fairlead. this is now being extended to others. It is not yet known if wear will be a problem for the permanently stopped design. The cost benefits of increased FPSO storage volumes should be considered at the earliest opportunity in the design phase. It is likely that matching storage volumes to the size of the planned shuttle tanker will prove the most cost-effective option. As well as eliminating venting or flaring.better monitoring is required here) there have been no problems with the mooring lines and anchors. Good experience with such a design may lead to increased use of this lower cost approach. RGU 9 . Note: a key aspect of hydrocarbon blanketing is O2 detection. Future FPSO Helidecks should be designed and specified in consultation with helicopter operators to take account of lessons learned on existing FPSO’s. To date (other than minor drilling rig damage . For commercial reasons and to make best use of the ST. In several cases the storage capacity of the FPSO requires the ST to wait and complete loading with a second hook up. Operators have wanted to fill the shuttle tanker.OLF FPSO Project 2002 Installation of large helidecks on certain FPSO’s and provision of high-powered lighting has helped pilots. Use of individual anchor winches has the advantage of facilitating winter installation. Moorings (Major) Different approaches have been taken by Norwegian FPSO’s. This instrumentation must be kept in service and backed up at all times. The key has been selection of effective level control instrumentation. Hull Capacity (Major) Typical shuttle tanker (ST) capacities are 900. As well as risking failure to connect due to weather. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. it reduces use/maintenance of the inert gas generator. Motion Assumptions (Major) Motion has not been a significant problem for production regularity in Norwegian FPSO’s.

The most serious was the level of noise. The use of reciprocating diesels for main power has only been considered appropriate for smaller FPSO’s. RGU 10 . vessel role. LM 2500 engines have been the most successful for FPSO’s. Design must take full account of vessel movement. PAU design. Power Generation (Major) Each FPSO has a different engine combination. poor access for maintenance. 3 out of 5 FPSO’s have either inadequate power or incorrect engine sizes for efficient running. The larger and newer LM 6000s have proven inappropriate for offshore use with variable loads (from thrusters) and the demands of low nox emissions and dual fuel use. Wartsilla diesels while reliable and flexible have the disadvantage of design challenges for dual fuelling. Selection of Marine Equipment (Moderate) Shipyards will normally fit butterfly valves on penetrations through the hull. pipework stresses due to moving independently from the PAU. Modifications after construction are expensive and disruptive. On FPSO’s these should all be replaced by gate valves. This has required an upgrade of the topsides fatigue design. A contractor familiar with North Sea conditions and Norwegian Working Environment legislation should manage the work. stuck dampers and excessive dryness in the air. HVAC (Moderate) There have been a number of examples of poor HVAC design. machinery vibration. and provision made to blank these off externally for service 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre.OLF FPSO Project 2002 However operating experience for at least one FPSO has shown roll limits to be underestimated. The best solution seems to lie in smaller gas turbine packages in combination with a large back-up diesel generator. Gas turbines also provide ample waste heat for crude heating. Supports & Interfaces (Major) There have been a number of problems with PAU supports. Other problems are balancing difficulties. PAU Structures. high levels of maintenance and noise. HVAC design is a key area of design as a safety critical system. however their life is limited and they are easily damaged by marine growth. supports and associated pipework are a critical area. excessive PAU stiffness leading to cracks in the deck. wind and live liquid loading and construction tolerances. These include excessive vibration of reciprocating compressors and pumps transferring noise too the hull. which failed to meet Working Environment rules. lack of external air locks. flexing of compressor supports.

Turret Design (Critical) Three types of turret bearings are used by the 5 FPSO’s. Hydraulic pads were selected to deal with high mooring loads on a large turret. Where the primary underlying cause was identified the number of attributions were design issues (15). as the crew becomes confident to repair and service equipment on board. The hydraulic turret bearings have suffered from pad wear. hydraulic imbalance and difficulty to access and repair components. Turret bearing design has evolved over time. separate from the accommodation (for noise) and in a safe area allowing welding (forward). the vessel weather-vanes free. on the same level and close to stores. The controlled heading FPSO’s have the advantage of being able to lock the turret and thereby reduce bearing and swivel wear. However this places a demand on the thrusters (which are safety critical) and the crew to mange turret repositioning. well equipped with mechanical handling equipment. The most successful are accessible via forklift. by using a firewall. 2 out of 3 types have been troublesome. While this has been effective leading to no downtime. While simple rails and wheels have proven inadequate. Turret A total of 30 turret related issues/problems were reported. results in the lowest Opex. Turret Location (Critical) The turret location is a key design issue. excess construction tolerances. operational issues (5) and construction issues (2). RGU 11 . Current experience suggests that a free turret with swivel and thrusters used for offloading only. heavy duty rails and multiple bogies with rubber pads to spread the load have proven an effective solution. thrusters are required to maintain/control heading. Getting the workshop design right is important for maintenance efficiency and crew morale. Experience to date from the single Norwegian FPSO with a free turret indicates lower maintenance and crew involvement than with the other FPSO’s. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. In addition that FPSO has managed to achieve adequate safety of the accommodation forward of the turret. access and conditions in the workshop will reduce repair costs. gripper failures. high starting friction. At around 65% (4 out of 5 FPSO’s). poor rail heat treatment leading to surface cracking and inadequate wheel lubrication. The working environment.OLF FPSO Project 2002 Workshops (Moderate) Workshop design and locations vary on the FPSO’s. With the turret at greater than 75% of overall hull length from the stern. vessel deflection. The wheel and rail type have proven unsatisfactory due to high point loading from the wheels.

there have been no catastrophic failures of risers. Damage to the outer sheath and seawater ingress can reduce fatigue life significantly. Drag Chains (Major) 2 out of 5 FPSO’s have drag chains as an alternative to a swivel. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. and HP gas flow can cause vibration or loosening of the inner carcass. In addition the drag chain limits the free rotation of the vessel requiring thrusters to be serviceable at all times. There have been no significant leaks. Swivels (Major) Overall the performance of swivels on the 3 FPSO’s has been good. particularly on installation are needed to ensure long and trouble free life. Where the primary underlying cause was identified the number of attributions were design issues (12). the only major problem was two failures and an explosion in the oil filled 11KV-power transfer swivel. However. A key learning from all designs is the need to make all components easily serviceable and replaceable. Specific problems experienced include hose and electric cable failure due to wear from bending. so long term wear concerns and repair methods remain untested. Good riser design and operational management is a key success factor. only one FPSO has continuous swivel movement (free turret) and this has only been in service two years. and damage caused by running into the end stops. This was due to water entering the insulation oil medium. difficulty of access. commissioning issues (2) and operational issues (1). While simpler than swivels. Monitoring systems. Initial worries about swivel reliability have now been reduced. Layout A total of 19 layout related issues/problems were reported.OLF FPSO Project 2002 maintenance has been excessive. Risers (Major) Risers are a critical component of the FPSO system. RGU 12 . wear pads worn out. high maintenance and operability problems have indicated that swivels would have been a better option. the ability to flush the annulus and protect the riser from damage. To date however. This is endorsed by one FPSO where the operator has elected to replace the gas transfer hose with a swivel. Gas permeation can have unexpected effects including collapse.

poorly placed vents. RGU 13 . Capex Overruns and Schedule delays(Critical) On only one FPSO capex over-runs were avoided. Opex and Safety issues. however the Operator admits quality was poorer than expected and opportunities to improve the design at low cost were missed. on the downwind side. poor workshop and store locations. The Operator can either participate actively implementing upgrades when poor quality or low cost solutions are offered. In this case contract terms were followed with minimum change. Concerns noted include placing main generators too close to the accommodation.OLF FPSO Project 2002 Layout (Critical) The layout of equipment on an FPSO is a critical design phase. This requires a significantly different approach from a trading tanker. exhaust and flare radiation problems. module overcrowding when others are very spacious. commissioning issues (6) and construction issues (4). In general an optimum balance can be struck by working with the contractor to maintain quality and provide assistance to improve efficiency. access and escape routes restricted by cable and pipework. Where the primary underlying cause was identified the number of attributions were design issues (11). Project Management A total of 29-project management related issues/problems were reported. Almost all FPSO projects in the 90s were underbid by the main contractor. poor mechanical handling solutions. On the remaining projects costs over-ran significantly but the quality was higher than the original specification and design improvements implemented. Vents & Exhausts (Moderate) All FPSO’s have had problems with cold venting of hydrocarbons tripping the process. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. on the thruster controlled FPSO’s. Relevant specialists must carefully consider all Capex. This kept costs under control. Modifications have involved routing all vents up the flare stack or. More attention should be paid at the design stage to any source of hydrocarbon venting. or impose the contractual terms. It is recommended that when a basic FPSO layout is outlined more time is spent with all interested parties both informally and through formal design reviews to ensure the best compromises are achieved. Minor releases can be cold vented but lines need to be located and sized to minimise any risk of explosion or tripping gas detectors under any weather conditions.

poor instrumentation. as people and teams are often moved to other areas of activity. (Major) Vibration from reciprocating compressors can be a serious problem. service costs. In addition they failed to manage builders and suppliers to adequate quality standards. A number of factors contributed to these problems. There are advantages in repeat orders due to organisational learning. and vessel movement reducing efficiency of separation train. Project Input from Other Groups (Major) There is evidence that builders and contractors learn a great deal during projects. liquid hold up in pipes and slugging and poor performance of internals. RGU 14 . or to keep within budget or time schedule. Functional specifications generally give the yard and designers too little guidance. Vibration has also Compression A). B). operational issues (17) commissioning issues (9) and construction issues (4). There is therefore a real advantage in building a second or third vessel in a yard. where many of the original problems have been worked out. (Critical) 3 out of 5 FPSO’s had serious compression problems (gas seal failures. In all 5 cases the operator has had to provide significant resources to support the project or in 3 cases take over responsibility for completing the project. It would seem a good investment to install larger scrubbers than normal to provide a safety factor for unknowns. substitute diesel fuel. however the design contractor and shipyard were unable to interpret these correctly. CO2 tax.OLF FPSO Project 2002 Construction Management (Major) In several cases the build contract specified functional requirements. On one FPSO poor mounting of the compressors and failure to fit bellows and flexible hoses has led to an ongoing sequence of high potential leaks and failures. repeated bundle change-outs and cracked pistons) due to undersized scrubbers and liquid carry-over. Operations & Support A total of 74 hull and marine related issues/problems were reported. and lost gas export income was substantial. More work should be done up front on the selection of key equipment and specification of quality. spares. However this learning appears to be short term. Upgrades. improved instrumentation and online equipment monitoring solved problems. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. The cost of these failures which includes. there is the risk that a new team with little experience will have to start at the bottom of the learning curve again. however if workloads are high. Where the primary underlying cause was identified the number of attributions were design issues (20).

This is probably an industry record. Submersible Offloading Pumps (Moderate) Many Problems were experienced with hydraulic submersible pumps in the early phases of operation. improvements to hose care when sliding in and out of the shute. Incidents of missed loadings due to weather have also been very few. better procedures for handling the messenger line and identification of critical components for maintenance/sparing. 1000 offloadings – the first was a contact when some light structural damage was sustained and the second a rope round the thruster. Hydraulic submersible pumps are highly sensitive to debris and any weaknesses in the pipework. This was achieved through comprehensive pre-start-up commissioning work and operator training. 4 out of 5 FPSO’s are delivering 95% or more of available volumetric production. Equipment should be run on load with simulated gas. Simpler methods to access and repair submersible pumps should be also implemented. C). One high potential and one minor incident occurred out of approx. The 5th is at around 90%. Reciprocating compressor vibration is a key design issue. RGU 15 . Uptime Performance (Critical) Overall performance has been excellent. To date high performances have been achieved but often at the expense of major modification and/or ongoing repair programmes. Problems were related to debris in the tanks and pipework and pipework leaks. Shuttle tanker / offloading (Major) FPSO/Shuttle tanker offloading has been very successful. While these figures were lower in the first 18 months production. use of plant tuning simulators also with a rapid start-up. Lessons learned include the need to identify contact zones at the rear of the FPSO to ensure damage escalation risk is minimised. An independent review of noise and vibration levels is recommended. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. (Moderate) One FPSO achieved Gas Compression start-up 7 days after first oil. regularity has generally exceeded industry expectations. Gas plant commissioning should be fully completed before sailaway. There is a lack of fully objective data and it is too early to fully evaluate the success or failure of different FPSO designs and operating strategies.OLF FPSO Project 2002 affected the drive motors with isolating pads coming loose and damaging rotors. Only a competent supplier with experience of packaging such units offshore should design such systems. Opex data was not available for the review. This should be an area of special focus during commissioning. Noise is also a problem for personnel. Operations staff involvement with commissioning.

Crew (Major) All FPSO’s operate with a base crew of 35-40. Their experience is particularly important for emergency situations. A number of FPSO’s reported that with a smaller crew than a platform. when water arrives they often produce sand. communication and morale are better. Provision for sand and solids’ handling is generally a good long-term investment.General (Critical) There is no evidence that FPSO’s are less safe than other installations. despite optimistic predictions from the reservoir engineers. relationships. Where the primary underlying cause was identified the numbers of attributions were operational issues (3) and commissioning issues (1). and commissioning issues (2). Codes/Classification A total of 16 codes/classification related issues/problems were reported. RGU 16 . Where the primary underlying cause was identified the number of attributions were design issues (4). Safety . Although wells are predicted to be sand free. Manning and Safety A total of 7 manning and safety related issues/problems were reported. There is evidence that active attention to and reporting of hazards improves safety awareness and thereby performance. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. This can cause significant problems for major maintenance or upgrade projects. However most FPSO’s carry typical POB levels of 55-70. It is also useful to be able to clean up wells directly through the test separator. which should have sand jetting installed. This required a number of staff particularly crane operators and mariners to be multi-skilled. A significant realisation has been importance of carrying multi-skilled mariners within base crew.OLF FPSO Project 2002 Process (Moderate) There is often inadequate provision for sand and solids in the separation system. cargo management/offloading and maintaining equipment exposed to sea spray and corrosion.

Again this underlines the importance of having a core crew of mariners on board. It can be more of a problem however for visiting service personnel. Many people use stick-on patches as a cure. FPSO management must continue to be sensitive to the problem this can pose for certain individuals. People suffer for a day or so but seem to adapt. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. and crews sent out to work in enclosed spaces such as tank cleaning. RGU 17 .OLF FPSO Project 2002 Motion effects on people (Moderate) Seasickness has not been reported as a major problem.

hydraulic manipulators. Lifeboat and escape facility upgrades will also be required. less cavitation and simpler pump maintenance and marine growth removal. use of forklifts. Caisson Systems (Major) Placement of sea water pumps deep in the hull (forward or aft of the main tanks) presents three main problems.these may range from an additional deck mounted module to beds installed in unused rooms.choice of cranes. In general the vessel layouts are poorly optimised for equipment handling and storage. An evaluation should be conducted into the practicality of using inboard mounted caisson installed pumps for delivery of seawater direct to the end user.OLF FPSO Project 2002 6. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. layout. cavitation when the vessel is at shallow draft or in rough weather. Close and early consultation with the workforce will also be essential. The design option selected is likely to be different for each FPSO . lifting beams and appliances in the hull should be documented in a "code of practice" so in future contractors can design and optimise handling systems from the outset. but also the FPSO community in general faced. storage and landing areas and protection. lifeboat. RGU 18 . It is suggested that the best practices developed from experience with . Hull & Marine Accommodation (Major) A means is required to increase FPSO accommodation for short periods (say 2-6 months) for project or major repair/remedial work. Cranes are not optimum for working on FPSO equipment. The advantages would be reduced pipework. The upgrade would have to meet all applicable safety requirements including the provision of recreation space. Industry Challenges Respondents highlighted a number of challenges that not only they. cost of installation in the hull and difficulties with access and maintenance of the engine. refuge and escape facilities. Mechanical Handling (Major) Mechanical handling for all operation and maintenance activities has been strongly criticised on all 5 FPSO’s. easy access to fire pumps. "As built" handling systems for equipment in the hull are often inadequate.

particularly as reliability has not been as high as expected. A sharp bow increases green water as the hull cuts through the waves. Alternatively a blunt bow increases spray and wave impact and mooring loads. However a sharp bow leaves little space for machinery. One solution for the future is that thrusters are not safety critical (this is true of one FPSO). RGU 19 . Most thrusters have to be withdrawn externally and ROV work is weather sensitive and high risk. if required. is not always feasible due to thruster weights and position. Painting (Major) All 5 FPSO’s have suffered from inadequate paintwork. Lessons have been learned with the compromises in hull shape for harsh environment FPSO’s. The inability to dry dock the vessel and its limited accommodation demand that the initial paint finish is to the highest standard. However this work is often conducted late when the pressure for sailaway is high.premature thickening of the paint. There has been a serious problem on several FPSO’s with a topsides paint system failure in Norway . a failure in winter could impact safety and production. Painting (Moderate) Painting the hull in the area of the water line will present a challenge as this is normally done at 5-year dry dock. Use of FPSO cranes while helpful. that has led to extensive remedial work. The vessel can be raised under light ballast however the work. Quality control of preparation and finishing has also been lacking. This design has been achieved on one FPSO. Painting in Singapore has been particularly poor due to the humid conditions. The transition zone has also been a source of cracking. The underlying problem is lack of priority and time allocated to this activity. These lessons need to be documented and in combination with improved model testing and environmental data used to design and specify the optimum FPSO shape for each situation. will be very exposed with no provision for scaffolding. The challenge is to develop painting technology and methods compatible with project demands and a 20year offshore life. Thrusters (Major) Service or repair of thrusters is a major challenge. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. but it reduces mooring loads. and thrusters should be designed for internal retrieval and service. Methods for removal and repair of thrusters in field need to be developed and shared.OLF FPSO Project 2002 Hull Shape (Major) Hull shape involves a number of compromises. Painting of FPSO’s is a critical area to ensure a low maintenance facility over a long period offshore. Most FPSO’s require thrusters at all times. reduces storage volumes and increases complexity for building.

Fitting blanking plates is also time consuming and weather sensitive. In addition the safety risks of relying on a single blanking plate may be considered unacceptable. Consideration should also be given to submersible pumps in a caisson . repair and recoating methods. tools and methodologies should be developed to improve the safety and efficiency . prepare and paint FPSO hulls at the splash zone while the vessel is on location and in production. Main concerns have been safety related.(see above). and personnel access. venting and access. HP fuel gas compressor design and reliability has also been a concern. Studies should indicate an appropriate mitigation and provide guidelines on when it's use should be necessary. Tank entry (Moderate) Entry to tanks for inspection and repair is proving very costly both the time and resources. The work must be conducted by a small crew so minimising impact on other summer maintenance activities. Sea Chests (Moderate) Marine growth in sea chests is a problem on all FPSO’s.OLF FPSO Project 2002 The challenge is to devise a methodology to safely clean. whereby HP gas has to be routed into an engine room where the risk of fire is already high. Work is required into the emulsification of produced oil in seawater and reasons for the formation of a free oil sheen. RGU 20 .best practice should be shared. This has proven difficult in practice. Options that reduce opportunities for marine growth and allow blanking off in the event of valve failure are required. The ability to blank off the sea chests is also required in the event of a leaking main seawater valve. Produced Water Disposal (Moderate) Produced water with 20ppm oil content (within allowable limits) can create a sheen when discharged from an FPSO in still water. tank and pipework isolation. gas freeing. Power Generation (Moderate) Warstilla diesels are required to run on diesel and gas. This involves special provisions for cleaning. It is an ideal location for marine growth and is difficult to clean. A solution is required to fundamentally improve the safety and reliability aspects of running diesel engines on Natural gas. The need for sea chests (normally used in vessels underway) needs to be reconsidered. This is in conflict with industry aspirations of minimum environmental impact. solids removal. For existing FPSO’s. Crude and ballast tanks should be designed to facilitate maintenance. Primary problems include tank washing. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre.

and mechanical handling to take account of the need for minimum maintenance and in field repair. Operations & Support In Situ Repairs and Modifications (Critical) FPSO’s are placed on location for the duration of field life typically 7-20 years. This allows volumes to be maintained while the primary field reaches tail end production. lack of operations experience. ability to produce separate streams.OLF FPSO Project 2002 Turret Swivels/Tie-backs (Major) Increasingly opportunities to tie back new fields are being considered. fatigue analysis. The challenge is to revise all aspects of marine standards including quality control. however on 4/5 FPSO’s staff consider operations input inadequate. Typically the swivel and turret are the most challenging areas for upgrade. concern at capex over-runs. This means that all-major repairs. swivel capacity or paths. Swivels (Moderate) While swivel repairs have not yet been required. subcontractor management. At present a repair to a key seal may take up to 5 days. Reasons are lack of an operating organisation. A low cost method is required to upgrade swivel capacity and pull in new risers with minimum shut down time. Data must be presented in a quantitative way and early enough to support investment decisions in appropriate design and quality requirements. metering and control upgrades. Marine standards and codes assume periodic visits to port and occasional dry-docking. Project Management Design Input from Operations (Major) It is agreed that Operations input a key to good design. Opex trade offs based on past operating experience. lack of data for operations to justify more expenditure and information provided too late. material specifications. There are a number of constraints including available riser slots. coatings. a methodology to simplify repair and seal replacement is required. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. The challenge for operations staff is to be able to provide a reasoned justification for Capex vs. inspections and maintenance must be carried out in situ. RGU 21 .

missing as built drawing and loop diagrams. Primary problems have been late documentation from suppliers. Role of Vendors / OEM (Major) Primary equipment vendors have little involvement in the operation of equipment. inability to get paperless systems up and running even one year after start-up. Reason is fatigue of internals due to poor support. This has two drawbacks. If the supplier refuses to offer a performance level. RGU 22 . 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. The cost of such failures is very high . In the event of paint stripping or tank cleaning these solids could also be routed to the solids tank. It appears that suppliers have not adequately understood loads associated with separators on FPSO’s. The ability to clean up a new or treated well via the FPSO would add value over field life. Documentation (Moderate) Every Operator has complained of inadequate documentation. Consideration should be given to a third slops tank specifically designed for high solids fluids and solids drop out.shut down and repair costs. The problem appears to arise from inadequate specification of documentation requirements at order placement.OLF FPSO Project 2002 Process (Major) Failure of separator or coalescer internals due to sloshing is a common problem of FPSO’s (reported by 3 out of 5). Follow up is often inadequate. Solids Disposal (Moderate) Disposal of high solids content fluids is always a problem on an FPSO. The challenge is to secure a commitment for technical support or a minimum performance level when the equipment is competitively bid and purchased. incompatible tags and poor links to maintenance databases. another supplier should be preferred. perhaps building further on Norsok standards. the Operator has difficulty accessing adequate specialists to assist in problem resolution and the supplier has little opportunity to learn for operational experience. The tank would have easy cleanable surfaces with jetting lines and solids/slurry handling pumps. It is also a low priority for suppliers after the equipment is delivered and paid for. missing data from subcontractors (particularly marine suppliers). Work is required to define fluid loading and build an industry specification for moving separation equipment to eliminate the problem. Different specifications from Operators are also a problem. This requires expectations to be set up front by the Operations team. This is an opportunity for a joint industry initiative.

firefighting. The challenge is for Classification Societies and Operators to tighten FPSO’s class specifications so they become fully effective both for Operators. builders and regulators. but there is a view that the societies have not kept up with the demanding design. ROV inspections. 4 out of 5 have now dropped Classification.and holds a large daughter craft on board.OLF FPSO Project 2002 Standby Vessels (Moderate) All FPSO’s are using SBV’s in different ways. NPD do not require ongoing classification. Their view is that there is little to be gained from remaining within the "marine" inspection and approval regime offered by leading classification societies. There is potential value in classification. Codes/Classification Approvals & Safety Verification (Major) While all FPSO’s were built to Class. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. tug support during offloading and one FPSO is sharing with a Platform 60kms away . The challenge is to share best practices and agree a common role for the vessel and it's specifications so that every FPSO can get best value from the vessel and achieve appropriate standby cover at most economical price. in both build and operation phases. including storage. build and manning requirements of FPSO’s. RGU 23 .

Norwegian FPSO Successes Evidence suggests that what goes wrong is more likely to be remembered than what goes right. One FPSO was able to maintain full production in 12m significant wave heights. There have been no significant leaks. Another FPSO reported that the hull is mainly carbon steel. this is now being extended to others.titanium seawater and GRP pipe have both been a success. particularly for people coming from fixed platforms. Motion Assumptions (Major) Motion has not been a significant problem for production regularity in Norwegian FPSO’s. remedial actions undertaken and lessons learned. Material Selection (Moderate) Material selection strategies that started early have had good results. the only major problem was two failures and an explosion in the oil 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. Following successful proof of concept. RGU 24 . Turret Swivels (Major) Overall the performance of swivels on the 3 FPSO’s has been good. It is hoped that these type of knowledge exchange initiatives will in future assist FPSO specialists to report both positive and negative experiences relative to established best practice. In both the Norwegian and the UK research exercises the interviewees were more forthcoming with information about problems and challenges faced. several exotics. As well as eliminating venting or flaring. Longitudinal separator placement has been successful. People were often reticent or unsure about classifying something as a success or a potential best practice.7. Motion effects on people has been reported as a minor issue. This is often in part because of the difficulty people have in comparing their experiences with those of others and then coming to an informed conclusion as to what is a good or bad practice or performance relative to a norm. solutions identified. These include: Hull & Marine Inert Gas Systems (Major) One FPSO was designed with Hydrocarbon blanketing to replace inert gas. The key has been selection of effective level control instrumentation. it reduces use/maintenance of the inert gas generator. Mooring Integrity (Major) Mooring integrity appears to have been better resolved in Norway compared with their UK counterparts where a recent Noble Denton study suggested this was a major problem area. Reported Norwegian success stories are highlighted in Table 3 of the Appendix.

backed up by proactive safety cultures to enhance and extend good safety practices within project contractors and shipyards. This was due to water entering the insulation oil Project Management Project Learning/input (Moderate) There is evidence to suggest that a number of Norwegian FPSO projects benefited significantly from knowledge sharing of lessons learned from other projects in development at the same time. 1000 offloadings . tank cleaning. This was claimed as an industry record and was attributed to comprehensive commissioning work and operator training. Operator’s staff and nominees working in the yards during construction and commissioning phases appear to have been adept at seeking out and implementing good practices from other operators and the DNV. Incidents of missed loadings due to weather have also been very few. plus additional marine superintendents. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. Compression Start-up (Major) One Norwegian FPSO had gas compression up and running 7 days after first oil. RGU 25 . medium. OIM is mariner. Shuttle tanker/offloading (Major) FPSO/Shuttle tanker offloading has been very successful. Operations & Support Uptime Performance (Critical) Where reported uptime performances have been excellent.g.one contact when some light structural damage was sustained and one rope round the thruster. Safety Performance All operators reported good FPSO safety performances. Manning & Safety Crew Organisation Decision to have good professional marine competency onboard has been beneficial. Onshore management has strong confidence in offshore team to use their judgement to maintain stability and routinely undertake vessel related activities e.filled 11KV-power transfer swivel. Only two minor incidents occurred out of approx.

• A synthesis of the most widely reported issues/problems relating to UKCS FPSO’s is shown in Table 4. Like the OLF project a number of specialists representing ten FPSO’s were interviewed and their views collated. hyperlinks have been created between the UK suggestions in Table 5 and related Norwegian experiences documented in Table 2.8. Decision and actions taken in the design and construction phase are the most probable causes of problems in commissioning and early operation. Emphasis on initial capital cost control and fast-tracking has lead to poor design decisions negatively impacting for years to come on the operational efficiency of a number of FPSO’s and their workforce. Problems have also been caused by lack of communication between isolated groups involved in design. A significant majority of FPSO related problems are attributable to the design phase. Part of the research involved the collection of lessons learned from the first 12-18 months operation of FPSO’s on the UKCS. Where appropriate. The checklist was produced to assist the avoidance of decisions and actions. Knowledge of lessons learned does not seem to be shared readily across the UK FPSO industry. Also shown in Table 5 are a checklist derived from information collected during interviews with UK operators of FPSO’s in September and October 2000. A change of attitude will probably be needed before the situation will improve. It appears that the responsibility for QA/QC was not clear and this has led to problems with equipment delivered which was not fit for purpose. There is clear evidence from both the Norwegian and UKCS research of the existence of communication problems in the design process and that input from personnel with operational experience has been undervalued at this stage. which could lead to problems during start-up and operations. RGU 26 . A major cause of early operational problems was that FPSO’s were sailed to their location before their construction was complete and before their systems had been fully tested. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. Whereas the emphasis and information reporting in the UK study were slightly different. it is worthwhile trying to align some of the experiences and lessons learned from the two areas. The misapplication of functional specifications has led to operational problems. UK FPSO Lessons Learned In 2001 the Offshore Management Centre at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen completed a similar knowledge sharing research exercise on behalf of the FPSO committee of the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA). The main conclusions from the UK work were as follows: • • • • • • It appears that the majority of problems arose because of the way the projects were structured and managed.

Some problems attributable to the effects of motion have been reported from both Norwegian and UK FPSO’s. These have included: Crane design and mechanical handling issues. RGU 27 . This can be a significant problem if functional specifications are not clarified down the supply chain. The change out of power generation systems and thrusters has and will continue to represent a major operational challenge. This appears to be due to lack of familiarity of operational needs by designers. There have been a number of problematic issues common to both Norwegian and UK FPSO’s. It is equally important the customer maintains an adequate degree of internal competency and understanding to ensure the operational design specification is fully fit for purpose. There are examples from both the Norwegian and UK project experiences that too much faith can be placed in the knowledge of the supplier. poor crane coverage and inadequate lay-down areas. assuming that the vessel can be taken off station and brought into port if there are any problems. 27/05/04 The Offshore Management Centre. Both Norwegian and UKCS FPSO’s have struggled with accommodation POB restrictions.e. Prioritisation of construction and engineering work presents real challenges because of limited POB flexibility. When not properly addressed at the time this factor has the potential to create significant POB scheduling problems at a later stage. These appear to be mainly where there has been insufficient attention to the effects of sloshing inside tanks and damage to separator internals as a consequence of fatigue. Designers have not adequately faced up to the challenges of simplifying failed equipment removal mechanisms for FPSO’s. Vessel orientation and location of venting problems resulting in exhausts and other emissions being blown over vessels have been experienced in both the UK and Norway. There are many examples of suppliers and even constructors not appreciating the distinctive nature of FPSO operations i. bumper bars and mechanical handling capabilities. Both Norwegian and UK FPSO’s have had experiences of poor quality painting and coatings during the construction phase. Many FPSO’s have been designed with inefficient cranes.It is essential that lessons learned feedback from knowledge sharing initiatives such as this are channelled back to the FPSO design companies and their staff.