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Lloyds List: Oil majors look to generic FPSO vessels for deepwater fields: “ExxonMobil, Shell and Brazilian state oil firm Petrobras are thought to be in the hunt for generic-designed production ships and are likely to award multi-ship contracts early next year.”: Tuesday December 06, 2005


WITH oil companies looking to develop several deepwater oil fields in benign environments around West Africa and off Brazil, the majors are increasingly looking for generic designs, writes Martyn Wingrove.


ExxonMobil, Shell and Brazilian state oil firm Petrobras are thought to be in the hunt for generic-designed production ships and are likely to award multi-ship contracts early next year.


US major Chevron and London-based BP are also thought to be interested in developing their large fields with generic designed systems, using leasing agreements with floating production storage offloader contractors.


Bessel Van Der Vliet, a director with Vanguard Oil ' Gas Developments, thinks this is the way ahead for the larger FPSO contractors. 'Oil companies are looking for generic, standardised designs with similar hulls, moorings and topside facilities,' he said.


'These would have a lot of the engineering done up front and perhaps only one year for their conversion. They will need to be flexible in design and not bespoke to one project.'


ExxonMobil was the first to come out with this way of contracting, booking three such ships from Single Buoy Moorings in 2002 for the Xikomba project in Angola, Zafiro in Equatorial Guinea and Yoho off Nigeria.


It has since taken the option to purchase the FPSO Serpentina from SBM, so owning two production ships on the ever-growing Zafiro field.


Petrobras has its eyes on leasing a fleet of generic- designed FPSOs off the Brazilian coast and should start tendering for at least two of these vessels early in 2006.


It has seen the success of ExxonMobil and wants to do the same to cut development costs and speed up projects.


Petrobras has already taken the FPSO standardisation route with similar vessels being built for its Roncador, Espadarte and Golfinho projects.


But it is planning to go one step further for a third vessel on Golfinho and one to develop light oil in the BS-500 block of the Santos basin.


ExxonMobil is back again, looking for three more generic designs, thought to be for its Kizomba Phase C projects and Bosi off Nigeria.


Shell is thought to be in the market for three FPSOs to be deployed at Bonga Southwest off Nigeria, BC-10 off Brazil and Gumusut in Malaysia.


BP has enough discoveries in block 31 off Angola for two FPSO-based projects and Chevron has three potential developments off West Africa.


One of the biggest owners of very large crude carriers, Frontline, also sees a strong market for generic-designed FPSOs.


Its chief executive, Oscar Spieler, said last month that Frontline was establishing an FPSO team to design these vessels based on converting its own tankers.


He said the group knows of 18 potential projects for its large vessels and could have the first in the water by 2007, built on a speculative basis.


He thinks that by converting tankers into FPSOs , Frontline could extend the life of its vessels by more than 10 years.


Other future opportunities for FPSO contractors are in the development of smaller oil fields.


London-based Vanguard is taking on these types of projects, offering low cost vessel conversions and fast-track developments.


Mr Van Der Vliet also thinks there will be opportunities for building FPSOs that can incorporate gas-to-liquids technology, with the first of these ships producing methanol.


He said Modec, SBM and Bluewater, with Syntroleum, are looking into these business opportunities and BP will be the first to order one of these systems for producing methanol off Trinidad.


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