Houston Offshore Engineering Articles RSS Feed Houston Offshore Engineering no http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/rss Houston Offshore Engineering http://www.houston-offshore.com/tresources/en/images/icons/tendenci34x15.gif http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/rss Houston Offshore Engineering Articles and Podcast Copyright 2015 Houston Offshore Engineering Tendenci Association Software by Schipul - The Web Marketing Company en-us noemail@houston-offshore.com(Webmaster) houstonoffshore noemail@houston-offshore.com Thu, 19 Feb 2015 18:48:25 GMT Articles http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/art/25/ Two face off in Sea Lion FEED contest <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span ><strong>Two face off in Sea Lion FEED contest</strong></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" src="/attachments/wysiwyg/484/upstream sea lion pic(1).jpg" /></p> <p>Upstream</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By Anthony Guegel and Erik Means Houston and Oslo&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;30 May 2014 00:00 GMT</p> <p><strong>PREMIER Oil has shortlisted Amec and Wood Group Mustang to gallop to the finish line for a key front-end engineering and design contract based on a tension-leg drilling and production platform for the $5.2 billion development of the Sea Lion oilfield off the Falklands Islands.</strong></p> <p>Rival engineering contractors Aker Solutions and KBR are out of the race, according to sources, and Premier is believed to be preparing to officially inform them that they did not make the cut within a week.</p> <p>Some sources suggested it is now neck-and-neck between Mustang and Amec, but another observer argued that Amec is the front-runner and is &ldquo;going hard&rdquo; for the 12-month job. The FEED contract is thought to be worth about $35 million to $40 million, said one industry source.</p> <p>Houston Offshore Engineering is poised to secure a role no matter which shortlised bidder wins the contract, as it has partnered with both Amec and Mustang for hull design and mooring, based on a dry-tree TLP with 100,000 barrels of crude processing capacity.</p> <p>With well over 40,000 tonnes displacement, the TLP is favoured by Premier for well intervention access and for the deck space to support equipment for heating the oil.</p> <p>KBR&rsquo;s recent win from Maersk Oil for FEED work on the three-platform Culzean project in UK waters may have put it at a disadvantage for Sea Lion, more than one source suggested, raising questions about its capacity to take on another big FEED project simultaneously.</p> <p>Aker helped force Houston Offshore Engineering (HOE) to &ldquo;sharpen their pencils&rdquo; with their engineering calculations, according to another source, but HOE&rsquo;s well-honed experience with multiple TLPs in the US Gulf and West Africa may have helped to dismiss the Norwegian outfit.</p> <p>The full FEED was previously expected to kick off in June but that is now said to have slipped to July as Premier&rsquo;s board is due to ratify the decision on the sole contractor by mid-June.</p> <p>The operator was initially said to have specified in the tender documents that the FEED work was to be run from the UK, but this stance may have shifted of late, with rumours that the project could land in Houston.</p> <p>The scene in London had allegedly been favoured because of concerns over meeting British health, safety and environmental standards which also apply to the Falklands.</p> <p>A successful FEED is deemed vital for Premier&rsquo;s efforts to recruit a partner with deep pockets to help finance the multi-billion-dollar project in the execution phase.</p> <p>However, one source close to the project suggested that besides the sheer scale of the TLP there is nothing hugely expensive about Sea Lion.</p> <p>The field is not deep-water like in Brazil or the US Gulf of Mexico, the weather is &ldquo;better than the North Sea&rdquo;, the source claimed, and wells take less than 20 days to hit total depth.</p> <p>Sea Lion lies in 450 metres of water about 200 kilometres north of the Falklands. Production from the TLP will be exported via a leased floating storage and offloading unit.</p> <p>The first phase of development targets recovery of 293 million barrels of oil.</p> <br><br>23-Jun-14 0:00 AM Two face off in Sea Lion FEED contest Two face off in Sea Lion FEED contest Upstream By Anthony Guegel and Erik Means Houston and Oslo 30 May 2014 00:00 GMT PREMIER Oil has shortlisted Amec and Wood Group Mustang to gallop to the finish line for a key front-end engineering and design contract based on a tension-leg drilling and production platform for the $5.2 billion development of the Sea Lion oilfield off the Falklands Islands. Rival engineering contractors Aker Solutions and KBR are out of the race, according to sources, and Premier is believed to be preparing to officially inform them that they did not make the cut within a week. Some sources suggested it is now neck-and-neck between Mustang and Amec, but another observer argued that Amec is the front-runner and is "going hard" for the 12-month job. The FEED contract is thought to be worth about $35 million to $40 million, said one industry source. Houston Offshore Engineering is poised to secure a role no matter which shortlised bidder wins the contract, as it has partnered with both Amec and Mustang for hull design and mooring, based on a dry-tree TLP with 100,000 barrels of crude processing capacity. With well over 40,000 tonnes displacement, the TLP is favoured by Premier for well intervention access and for the deck space to support equipment for heating the oil. KBR's recent win from Maersk Oil for FEED work on the three-platform Culzean project in UK waters may have put it at a disadvantage for Sea Lion, more than one source suggested, raising questions about its capacity to take on another big FEED project simultaneously. Aker helped force Houston Offshore Engineering (HOE) to "sharpen their pencils" with their engineering calculations, according to another source, but HOE's well-honed experience with multiple TLPs in the US Gulf and West Africa may have helped to dismiss the Norwegian outfit. The full FEED was previously expected to kick off in June but that is now said to have slipped to July as Premier's board is due to ratify the decision on the sole contractor by mid-June. The operator was initially said to have specified in the tender documents that the FEED work was to be run from the UK, but this stance may have shifted of late, with rumours that the project could land in Houston. The scene in London had allegedly been favoured because of concerns over meeting British health, safety and environmental standards which also apply to the Falklands. A successful FEED is deemed vital for Premier's efforts to recruit a partner with deep pockets to help finance the multi-billion-dollar project in the execution phase. However, one source close to the project suggested that besides the sheer scale of the TLP there is nothing hugely expensive about Sea Lion. The field is not deep-water like in Brazil or the US Gulf of Mexico, the weather is "better than the North Sea", the source claimed, and wells take less than 20 days to hit total depth. Sea Lion lies in 450 metres of water about 200 kilometres north of the Falklands. Production from the TLP will be exported via a leased floating storage and offloading unit. The first phase of development targets recovery of 293 million barrels of oil. no http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/art/25/ Ivy Jones - noemail@houston-offshore.com Mon, 23 Jun 2014 05:00:00 GMT Articles http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/art/10/ Premier awards TLP contract for Sea Lion <h2>Houston Offshore Engineering has won an intriguing pre-front end engineering and design contract to examine a tension-leg platform solution for the development of Premier Oil&rsquo;s politically-sensitive Sea Lion project off the Falkland Islands.</h2> <div> <div> <p>The UK independent had initially planned to develop the field, which lies in 450 metres of water about 200 kilometres north of the Falkland Islands, using a floating production, storage and offloading unit and up to 30 subsea wells divided between six well centres, but sources said this scheme is prohibitively expensive.</p> <p>One contractor source said the overall capital expenditure for the FPSO and subsea facilities was estimated at $4 billion, while the cost of chartering a rig and drilling the wells was projected to cost another $3 billion.</p> <p>Premier, led by chief executive Simon Lockett, revealed late last month that pre-FEED work on the FPSO solution was nearing completion and that now a TLP-based solution would be examined in a bid to reduce costs on the project.</p> <p>&ldquo;Conceptual studies have indicated that a TLP with an integral drilling rig may offer significant cost savings, while providing better motion characteristics and flow assurance options,&rdquo; Premier said as it released its first-half &shy;results last month.</p> <p>Sources said numerous design houses with TLP experience were chasing the Sea Lion pre-FEED award, with the list thought to include Aker Solutions, FloaTec, Houston Offshore Engineering (HOE) and Worley Parsons.</p> <p>However, it has now emerged that HOE was chosen for the study, though neither HOE nor Premier offered any official confirmation of the deal when questioned this week.</p> <p>One source said a dry-tree TLP would offer substantial savings compared to an FPSO because the subsea facilities could be scaled back to a minimum. He added that a TLP could also help the project schedule as &ldquo;there are lots of delivery issues&rdquo; with subsea equipment and an FPSO.</p> <p>Peak oil production at Sea Lion is expected to reach about 100,000 barrels per day.</p> <p>Premier said drilling will initially focus on the northern part of the field, targeting recovery of some 284 million barrels of oil from 30 development wells, while a second phase would aim to tap 110 million barrels from 22 wells in the southern area via tie-back to the host facilities.</p> <p>Premier is expected to decide between the two development options this autumn and launch a full FEED based on the chosen concept around December, probably lasting six months or more.</p> <p>The operator aims to make a &shy;final investment decision on Sea Lion by the end of 2014.</p> <p>One bidder said first oil from the field, based on a 35-month development schedule, could then be achieved by late 2017 or early 2018.</p> <p>Premier formally became the operator of all of the licence interests, previously operated by Rockhopper, in November last year, provoking an outcry from Argentina.</p> <p>Oil exploration off the Falklands has created controversy in Argentina, which claims sovereignty over the islands in a long-running dispute with the UK.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>by: Erik Means<br> Editor-in-chief: Upstream Newspaper, Oslo</strong></p> <p><strong>published September&nbsp;13, 2013</strong></p> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br><br>18-Nov-13 11:00 AM Premier awards TLP contract for Sea Lion Houston Offshore Engineering has won an intriguing pre-front end engineering and design contract to examine a tension-leg platform solution for the development of Premier Oil's politically-sensitive Sea Lion project off the Falkland Islands. The UK independent had initially planned to develop the field, which lies in 450 metres of water about 200 kilometres north of the Falkland Islands, using a floating production, storage and offloading unit and up to 30 subsea wells divided between six well centres, but sources said this scheme is prohibitively expensive. One contractor source said the overall capital expenditure for the FPSO and subsea facilities was estimated at $4 billion, while the cost of chartering a rig and drilling the wells was projected to cost another $3 billion. Premier, led by chief executive Simon Lockett, revealed late last month that pre-FEED work on the FPSO solution was nearing completion and that now a TLP-based solution would be examined in a bid to reduce costs on the project. "Conceptual studies have indicated that a TLP with an integral drilling rig may offer significant cost savings, while providing better motion characteristics and flow assurance options," Premier said as it released its first-half &shy;results last month. Sources said numerous design houses with TLP experience were chasing the Sea Lion pre-FEED award, with the list thought to include Aker Solutions, FloaTec, Houston Offshore Engineering (HOE) and Worley Parsons. However, it has now emerged that HOE was chosen for the study, though neither HOE nor Premier offered any official confirmation of the deal when questioned this week. One source said a dry-tree TLP would offer substantial savings compared to an FPSO because the subsea facilities could be scaled back to a minimum. He added that a TLP could also help the project schedule as "there are lots of delivery issues" with subsea equipment and an FPSO. Peak oil production at Sea Lion is expected to reach about 100,000 barrels per day. Premier said drilling will initially focus on the northern part of the field, targeting recovery of some 284 million barrels of oil from 30 development wells, while a second phase would aim to tap 110 million barrels from 22 wells in the southern area via tie-back to the host facilities. Premier is expected to decide between the two development options this autumn and launch a full FEED based on the chosen concept around December, probably lasting six months or more. The operator aims to make a &shy;final investment decision on Sea Lion by the end of 2014. One bidder said first oil from the field, based on a 35-month development schedule, could then be achieved by late 2017 or early 2018. Premier formally became the operator of all of the licence interests, previously operated by Rockhopper, in November last year, provoking an outcry from Argentina. Oil exploration off the Falklands has created controversy in Argentina, which claims sovereignty over the islands in a long-running dispute with the UK. by: Erik Means Editor-in-chief: Upstream Newspaper, Oslo published September 13, 2013 no http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/art/10/ Ivy Jones - noemail@houston-offshore.com Mon, 18 Nov 2013 17:00:00 GMT Articles http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/art/2/ HOE dry tree semi 'market ready' <p> Houston Offshore Engineering's paired column semisubmersible design is market ready now that the firm has wrapped up basin testing. During a basin test demonstration for potential clients at the Offshore Technology Research Center on 22 April 2010, Jun Zou, HOE's manager of naval architecture, stressed the design relies on mature technology.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <table align="center" border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" height="425" width="474"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <a href="http://www.oilonline.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=ASHjQLM03bc%3d&amp;tabid=105" onclick="window.open(this.href,','resizable=no,location=no,menubar=no,scrollbars=no,status=no,toolbar=no,fullscreen=no,dependent=no,width=706,height=531,status'); return false"><img alt="Click image for larger view." border="0" height="263" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/Images/04_10_billboards/hoe_1_thumb.jpg" title="Click image for larger view." width="350" /></a></td> </tr> <tr> <td> Houston Offshore Engineering's paired column semi, designed under a RPSEA program seeking ultra-deepwater dry tree platforms, during wave basin model tests. Depicted in the test at the A&amp;M Offshore Technology Research Center is a 1000-year hurricane test for the central Gulf of Mexico. Waves: Hs=65ft, Tp=17.2s, Unidirectional (also called long-crested), JONSWAP Spectrum Irregular Seas. Hs is significant wave height and Tp is peak period. Winds: hourly wind speed at 33ft elevation, 187ft/s. Currents: current surface speed, 7.35ft/s.</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p> &nbsp;<br> The overall design stems from a Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America project aimed at creating a dry tree semi for ultra-deepwater. Eight operators provided design criteria and participated in evaluating the competing concepts, submitted by a number of engineering firms offered designs. RPSEA selected three for continued development: HOE's paired column semi and FloaTEC's E-semi and truss-semi.</p> <p> <br> 'Our philosophy is to stick to the conventional technologies,' Zou said, citing the conventional hull, tensioner and mooring systems. 'My idea is to leave the tensioner exactly the same as on a spar. Nothing new.' The hull design is a bit different, with eight columns rather than the usual four, thus the paired column semi moniker. 'The outside columns take care of the stability,' Zou said. The benefits of the hull structure are multiple, he added, including improved motions, improved deck structure efficiency, improved hull-deck interface, improved motions at the steel catenary riser (SCR) hangoff location, and the decoupling of dependencies between stability requirements and deck support, heave natural period and pontoon width, and pre-service draft constraints.</p> <p> <br> Further, the paired column semi is more damage-tolerant than a traditional semi design, he said. 'It's not as sensitive to damage,' Zou said. 'We damage one column, we lose one-eighth' compared to losing a quarter with a four-legged semi.</p> <p> <br> Motions, of course, are key, as HOE is offering the solution for water depths to 8000ft of water. 'We had really good correlations' between predicted reactions and test basin reactions. 'The current configuration we developed for rough sea meets or exceeds the RPSEA criteria.'</p> <table align="center" border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" width="523"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <a href="http://www.oilonline.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=WM6zsiw2WiQ%3d&amp;tabid=105" onclick="window.open(this.href,','resizable=no,location=no,menubar=no,scrollbars=no,status=no,toolbar=no,fullscreen=no,dependent=no,width=654,height=730,status'); return false"><img alt="Click image for a larger view." border="0" height="391" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/Images/04_10_billboards/hoe_2_thumb.jpg" title="Click image for a larger view." width="350" /></a></td> </tr> <tr> <td> Underwater view of HOE's paired column semi during testing at the A&amp;M Offshore Technology Research Center. Four equivalent moorings in model scale represent 14 moorings in prototype. Four equivalent top tensioned risers in model scale represent 12 in prototype.<br> One equivalent steel catenary riser in model scale represents 11 SCRs and<br> 6 umbilicals in prototype.</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p> <br> On both the 100-year and 1000-year hurricane tests, he said, the model behaved pretty much in line with predicted motions. 'We have pretty good agreement' between simulated and measured movement, Zou said. Further, he added, vortex-induced motions are not expected to be a concern.</p> <p> <br> 'We came out pretty good on our directional seas, added BMT Scientific Marine Services VP Peter Johnson.</p> <p> <br> The model used tri-linear risers to model continually changing stiffness, Johnson said.</p> <p> <br> While complicated to set up, Zou said, 'it turned out to be really nice and worth the money.'</p> <p> <br> The design meets API 2 INT-MET metocean criteria for the central GoM, the region that traditionally receives the most severe hurricane conditions. The design basis has a dozen top tension risers, a 16-slot wellbay, 9000psi shut-in tubing pressure, 11 SCRs, six umbilicals and 14 mooring lines. Displacement is 108,864 short tons. Total operating payload, including deck steel, is 42,000 short tons. The design is scalable up or down, Zou said. It can be wet- or dry-towed. As far as integration goes for the paired column semi with its topsides, that work can happen quayside, during a heavy lift nearshore, or via a floatover onsite.</p> <p> <br> 'People think our concept is just good for a dry tree. That's not true,' Zou said, noting it can work for both dry and wet tree needs.</p> <br><br>22-Apr-10 12:00 PM HOE dry tree semi 'market ready' Houston Offshore Engineering's paired column semisubmersible design is market ready now that the firm has wrapped up basin testing. During a basin test demonstration for potential clients at the Offshore Technology Research Center on 22 April 2010, Jun Zou, HOE's manager of naval architecture, stressed the design relies on mature technology. Houston Offshore Engineering's paired column semi, designed under a RPSEA program seeking ultra-deepwater dry tree platforms, during wave basin model tests. Depicted in the test at the A&M Offshore Technology Research Center is a 1000-year hurricane test for the central Gulf of Mexico. Waves: Hs=65ft, Tp=17.2s, Unidirectional (also called long-crested), JONSWAP Spectrum Irregular Seas. Hs is significant wave height and Tp is peak period. Winds: hourly wind speed at 33ft elevation, 187ft/s. Currents: current surface speed, 7.35ft/s. The overall design stems from a Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America project aimed at creating a dry tree semi for ultra-deepwater. Eight operators provided design criteria and participated in evaluating the competing concepts, submitted by a number of engineering firms offered designs. RPSEA selected three for continued development: HOE's paired column semi and FloaTEC's E-semi and truss-semi. 'Our philosophy is to stick to the conventional technologies,' Zou said, citing the conventional hull, tensioner and mooring systems. 'My idea is to leave the tensioner exactly the same as on a spar. Nothing new.' The hull design is a bit different, with eight columns rather than the usual four, thus the paired column semi moniker. 'The outside columns take care of the stability,' Zou said. The benefits of the hull structure are multiple, he added, including improved motions, improved deck structure efficiency, improved hull-deck interface, improved motions at the steel catenary riser (SCR) hangoff location, and the decoupling of dependencies between stability requirements and deck support, heave natural period and pontoon width, and pre-service draft constraints. Further, the paired column semi is more damage-tolerant than a traditional semi design, he said. 'It's not as sensitive to damage,' Zou said. 'We damage one column, we lose one-eighth' compared to losing a quarter with a four-legged semi. Motions, of course, are key, as HOE is offering the solution for water depths to 8000ft of water. 'We had really good correlations' between predicted reactions and test basin reactions. 'The current configuration we developed for rough sea meets or exceeds the RPSEA criteria.' Underwater view of HOE's paired column semi during testing at the A&M Offshore Technology Research Center. Four equivalent moorings in model scale represent 14 moorings in prototype. Four equivalent top tensioned risers in model scale represent 12 in prototype. One equivalent steel catenary riser in model scale represents 11 SCRs and 6 umbilicals in prototype. On both the 100-year and 1000-year hurricane tests, he said, the model behaved pretty much in line with predicted motions. 'We have pretty good agreement' between simulated and measured movement, Zou said. Further, he added, vortex-induced motions are not expected to be a concern. 'We came out pretty good on our directional seas, added BMT Scientific Marine Services VP Peter Johnson. The model used tri-linear risers to model continually changing stiffness, Johnson said. While complicated to set up, Zou said, 'it turned out to be really nice and worth the money.' The design meets API 2 INT-MET metocean criteria for the central GoM, the region that traditionally receives the most severe hurricane conditions. The design basis has a dozen top tension risers, a 16-slot wellbay, 9000psi shut-in tubing pressure, 11 SCRs, six umbilicals and 14 mooring lines. Displacement is 108,864 short tons. Total operating payload, including deck steel, is 42,000 short tons. The design is scalable up or down, Zou said. It can be wet- or dry-towed. As far as integration goes for the paired column semi with its topsides, that work can happen quayside, during a heavy lift nearshore, or via a floatover onsite. 'People think our concept is just good for a dry tree. That's not true,' Zou said, noting it can work for both dry and wet tree needs. no http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/art/2/ Jennifer Pallanich - noemail@houston-offshore.com Thu, 22 Apr 2010 17:00:00 GMT Articles http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/art/5/ Paired columns add stability <div> The hull of a traditional production semisubmersible (many of which exist today) utilizes four vertical columns arranged in a square pattern. Four horizontal pontoons connect the lower portions of the columns. Using the traditional production semisubmersible as a starting point, work by Houston Offshore Engineering revealed that the addition of one additional column per corner, in what amounts to a column pair, would yield significant benefits in the reduction of platform motions. Due to the improved motions, functionality of the platform is expanded to be compatible with dry trees and top-tensioned risers, even for the most severe design wind and wave environments in the central Gulf of Mexico. HOEs <strong>John Chianis</strong> and <strong>Philip Poll</strong> take up the story.<br> <br> The paired-column geometry of this new hull form allows for optimization of hydrodynamic force cancellation and an associated minimization of platform motions. Surge, heave and pitch motion RAOs of the Paired-Column Semisubmersible, with and without top-tensioned risers, are compared to a traditional Gulf of Mexico semisubmersible in the accompanying plots. All are superimposed over a typical Gulf of Mexico 100-year hurricane wave spectrum.<br> <br> Surge motion is very important for steel catenary riser support. For extreme event waves with periods in the range of 14-17 seconds, surge motions of the Paired- Column Semisubmersible are approximately 35% lower than a traditional Gulf of Mexico semisubmersible. In operating sea states with periods in the range of 6-10 seconds, the reduction in surge motions is approximately 50%. Respectively, steel catenary riser strength design and fatigue life are greatly enhanced.<br> <br> <img alt="Heave Motion RAOs." height="250" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/news-images/article_content/OE_Issues/October_2009/heave_motion.jpg" title="Heave Motion RAOs." txdam="1213" width="380" />The Paired-Column Semisubmersible also shows very desirable heave motions, which are important for top-tension risers and dry trees. The heave natural period is shifted more than 4 seconds longer thereby avoiding dominant wave energy associated with an extreme event. In the extreme event region, heave is reduced approximately by two-thirds and half for no top-tensioned risers and all top-tensioned risers respectively. For the all top-tensioned riser case, riser stroke is reduced to less than 25ft making off-the-shelf riser tensioner technology available.<br> <br> <img alt="Pitch Motion RAOs." height="250" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/news-images/article_content/OE_Issues/October_2009/pitch_motion.jpg" title="Pitch Motion RAOs." txdam="1216" width="380" />The paired-column cancellation effects are very obvious for pitch motions. Throughout the entire range of wave periods, from operating conditions to the extreme event, the Paired-Column Semisubmersible exhibits greatly improved motions over the traditional Gulf of Mexico semisubmersible.<br> <br> The Paired-Column Semisubmersible uses traditional hull components and mooring system and can be fully integrated at quayside to minimize the risks associated with offshore construction and installation. Upon leaving the integration facility, the Paired-Column Semisubmersible is immediately ready for hook up to its moorings and risers, and the start of production.<br> <br> The benefit of the paired column arrangement is clear for platform motions. Additional benefits further improve the concept in comparison to a traditional semisubmersible. The additional benefits are in the areas of lightweight deck structure, increased robustness and protection of hydrocarbon piping systems.<br> <br> The inner columns of the Paired-Column Semisubmersible provide excellent support and minimal span for the topsides, resulting in a lightweight deck structure. Reducing the deck span is especially important for a dry tree system which must resist significant loads from the drilling rig and the toptensioned risers.<br> <br> Increased robustness comes from the protection the outer columns provide to the rest of the hull for such incidents as boat collisions. The entire hull is designed to control flooding due to boat impact according to usual class rules and regulatory requirements. However, the outer columns greatly reduce the risk of impact to the outer surface of the inter columns. The paired-column geometry provides additional protection against collisions and increased stability during flooded compartment scenarios. The paired-column geometry also provides flexibility for locating riser piping on the hull away from potential impact locations.<br> <br> In summary, a simple modification to a traditional production semisubmersible provides a long list of advantages for offshore oil and gas production. Most importantly, the paired-column arrangement enables dry tree production in deep and ultra deepwater locations in the Gulf of Mexico using a platform that can be fully assembled quayside prior to installation offshore.<strong><em>OE</em></strong><br> <br> <strong>About the authors</strong><br> <strong><img alt="John Chianis, President Houston Offshore Engineering" height="100" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/news-images/article_content/OE_Issues/October_2009/john_chianis_100.jpg" title="John Chianis, President Houston Offshore Engineering" txdam="1214" width="71" /><img alt="Philip Poll, Manager of Projects, Houston Offshore Engineering" height="100" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/news-images/article_content/OE_Issues/October_2009/philip_poll.jpg" title="Philip Poll, Manager of Projects, Houston Offshore Engineering" txdam="1215" width="71" />John Chianis</strong> is president of Houston Offshore Engineering and has 30 years of experience in the development and design of deepwater oil and gas facilities. <strong>Philip Poll</strong> is manager of projects at Houston Offshore Engineering and has extensive experience in engineering execution and the development and design for deepwater projects. His specialty is structural engineering and he actively participates in the development of design codes and methods for stiffened plate structures.<br> <br> <strong>Issue: October 2009</strong></div> <br><br>13-Oct-09 12:00 PM Paired columns add stability The hull of a traditional production semisubmersible (many of which exist today) utilizes four vertical columns arranged in a square pattern. Four horizontal pontoons connect the lower portions of the columns. Using the traditional production semisubmersible as a starting point, work by Houston Offshore Engineering revealed that the addition of one additional column per corner, in what amounts to a column pair, would yield significant benefits in the reduction of platform motions. Due to the improved motions, functionality of the platform is expanded to be compatible with dry trees and top-tensioned risers, even for the most severe design wind and wave environments in the central Gulf of Mexico. HOEs John Chianis and Philip Poll take up the story. The paired-column geometry of this new hull form allows for optimization of hydrodynamic force cancellation and an associated minimization of platform motions. Surge, heave and pitch motion RAOs of the Paired-Column Semisubmersible, with and without top-tensioned risers, are compared to a traditional Gulf of Mexico semisubmersible in the accompanying plots. All are superimposed over a typical Gulf of Mexico 100-year hurricane wave spectrum. Surge motion is very important for steel catenary riser support. For extreme event waves with periods in the range of 14-17 seconds, surge motions of the Paired- Column Semisubmersible are approximately 35% lower than a traditional Gulf of Mexico semisubmersible. In operating sea states with periods in the range of 6-10 seconds, the reduction in surge motions is approximately 50%. Respectively, steel catenary riser strength design and fatigue life are greatly enhanced. The Paired-Column Semisubmersible also shows very desirable heave motions, which are important for top-tension risers and dry trees. The heave natural period is shifted more than 4 seconds longer thereby avoiding dominant wave energy associated with an extreme event. In the extreme event region, heave is reduced approximately by two-thirds and half for no top-tensioned risers and all top-tensioned risers respectively. For the all top-tensioned riser case, riser stroke is reduced to less than 25ft making off-the-shelf riser tensioner technology available. The paired-column cancellation effects are very obvious for pitch motions. Throughout the entire range of wave periods, from operating conditions to the extreme event, the Paired-Column Semisubmersible exhibits greatly improved motions over the traditional Gulf of Mexico semisubmersible. The Paired-Column Semisubmersible uses traditional hull components and mooring system and can be fully integrated at quayside to minimize the risks associated with offshore construction and installation. Upon leaving the integration facility, the Paired-Column Semisubmersible is immediately ready for hook up to its moorings and risers, and the start of production. The benefit of the paired column arrangement is clear for platform motions. Additional benefits further improve the concept in comparison to a traditional semisubmersible. The additional benefits are in the areas of lightweight deck structure, increased robustness and protection of hydrocarbon piping systems. The inner columns of the Paired-Column Semisubmersible provide excellent support and minimal span for the topsides, resulting in a lightweight deck structure. Reducing the deck span is especially important for a dry tree system which must resist significant loads from the drilling rig and the toptensioned risers. Increased robustness comes from the protection the outer columns provide to the rest of the hull for such incidents as boat collisions. The entire hull is designed to control flooding due to boat impact according to usual class rules and regulatory requirements. However, the outer columns greatly reduce the risk of impact to the outer surface of the inter columns. The paired-column geometry provides additional protection against collisions and increased stability during flooded compartment scenarios. The paired-column geometry also provides flexibility for locating riser piping on the hull away from potential impact locations. In summary, a simple modification to a traditional production semisubmersible provides a long list of advantages for offshore oil and gas production. Most importantly, the paired-column arrangement enables dry tree production in deep and ultra deepwater locations in the Gulf of Mexico using a platform that can be fully assembled quayside prior to installation offshore.OE About the authors John Chianis is president of Houston Offshore Engineering and has 30 years of experience in the development and design of deepwater oil and gas facilities. Philip Poll is manager of projects at Houston Offshore Engineering and has extensive experience in engineering execution and the development and design for deepwater projects. His specialty is structural engineering and he actively participates in the development of design codes and methods for stiffened plate structures. Issue: October 2009 no http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/art/5/ Phillip Poll - noemail@houston-offshore.com Tue, 13 Oct 2009 17:00:00 GMT Articles http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/art/3/ Keeping deepwater economics afloat As the main visible component of a producing deepwater field and a costly one the floating facility may eventually give way to a wholly subsea production solution. Until the industry is ready for that, though, floating facility design firms are looking at economic ways to meet operator needs in ultra-deepwater. <strong>Jennifer Pallanich</strong> discusses solutions, challenges and trends with some industry leaders.<br><br> Putting all production elements subsea appeals for a variety of reasons, but two primary goals are to protect the environment and eliminate both the topsides equipment and associated personnel. <br><br> 'Of course, the long-term vision is to put everything on the seafloor, but we're not there yet', says Michael Ming, president of Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA). 'The long-term goal is surface host elimination.' <br><br> For now, the leading edge of the industry is working to produce discoveries in water depths of a mile and a half and deeper. And in the Gulf of Mexico, where there's plenty of distance stretching out between ultra-deepwater finds, that means a tieback will not work for all finds. 'If you can't put a floating facility on it, then you've got to put in a long tie-back', Ming says. The industry is, and will continue to, push tieback limits, Ming notes. Simultaneously, he says, the industry has focused on making deepwater production facilities more economic. One element of that is a drytree solution for ultra-deepwater. <br><br><img title="John Chianis, Houston Offshore Engineering" alt="John Chianis, Houston Offshore Engineering" txdam="1210" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/news-images/article_content/OE_Issues/October_2009/john_chianis.jpg" height="156" width="125" />'Direct vertical access is a real key issue', says John Chianis, president of Houston Offshore Engineering (HOE). 'Having that captive drill rig on the platform lets [operators] maintain their wells so much better.' <br><br> To that end, RPSEA manages a consortium of over 145 organizations and universities participating in a $50 million per year, decade-long program funded by the US Department of Energy aimed at increasing the amount of the countrys reserves that are produced. Of that money, RPSEA earmarked $1 million to promote the development of a deep draft dry tree semisubmersible solution as an alternative to the spar, which supports a dry tree but is uneconomic beyond a certain water depth, depending on the metocean conditions of the region. <br><br> 'The advantages of a dry tree are obvious. What the operators want is a way to gain those advantages in the ultradeepwater economically,' explains HOE's manager of projects, Philip Poll. 'If we can give them a semi that can handle dry trees, then they would just love it.' <br><br> The research program, Ming says, is part of an integrated approach. RPSEA is involved in a host of other research efforts, all intended to make hydrocarbon discovery and recovery more efficient and less costly. <br><br> Eight operators participated in RPSEA's Ultra Deepwater (UDW) Program by providing design criteria and evaluation of the three competing concepts. The three structural designs were selected from FloaTEC and Houston Offshore Engineering. 'All three designs, once matured, met the performance requirements that were specified,' Ming says. 'The primary difference between the concepts came down to offshore construction. While the FloaTEC E-Semi and Truss Semi solutions were feasible, practical and had some advantages over the HOE design,' Ming says, the operators committee selected HOE's Paired-Column Dry Tree Semi (<em>see Paired columns add stability</em>), which leaves the quayside complete, to move into the next design stage and model testing. <br><br> HOE is expected to complete front end engineering this fall, and the solution should be project-ready when thats complete. Poll says experts the operators who need floating dry tree units in the ultra-deepwater specified the problem they needed solved, and through the RPSEA program HOE was able to devise a solution. 'If you have the dry tree solution, youre going to get more oil,' he says, because of the ease of interventions on a dry tree. As part of the final work on the Paired Column Semi design, a wind test began in September and a wave test is scheduled for January 2010. Once those are complete, Poll says, it's simply a matter of convincing the industry that its ready for prime time. 'To us, a huge part of commercialization is the testing,' Poll says. <br><br> With memories of hurricanes Katrina and Rita still looming large, a dry tree semi with motions equivalent to a spar is a must. 'Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico the past few years have really shown to be a very critical issue,' Chianis says. 'In the 2004/05 season, we saw a few hurricanes that exceeded the design criteria that we were using.' As a result of these fierce storms, the industry modified its wind and wave criteria. 'That has had a significant effect on our new designs,' Chianis says. 'It's the combination of wind and wave that gives rise to one of the key areas of concern these days, which we call air gap,' he says. The wind and waves create 'a whole series of increased forces on the platform that [the industry] had not expected,' Chianis says. Model testing had become routine, he notes, but with the new criteria, theres now more emphasis on testing, especially for the verification of air gap. <br><br> While the HOE design is the only one that moved forward in the RPSEA program, other engineering firms have been progressing their own solutions without the benefit of the RPSEA funding. <br><br><img title="Exmar's OPTI-Ex." alt="Exmar's OPTI-Ex." txdam="1211" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/news-images/article_content/OE_Issues/October_2009/opti_ex.jpg" height="252" width="380" />Exmar is moving forward with its on-spec OPTI-EX (<em>OE</em> April). The firms deep-draft floating production semi has gone through final commissioning and is in Ingleside, Texas, awaiting a contract. Samsung built the hull in Korea and Kiewit built the deck in Ingleside. The mating was performed at Kiewit in May. The OPTI-EX has come in on-budget and on-time, says Harris Knecht, president of Exmar Offshore. We had the luxury of the management allowing us good engineering time, he adds. <br><br><img title="Chris Barton, FloaTEC" alt="Chris Barton, FloaTEC" txdam="1207" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/news-images/article_content/OE_Issues/October_2009/chris_barton.jpg" height="117" width="125" />While not an ultra-deepwater dry tree solution, FloaTEC began promoting its Blue Ocean project last year. The Blue Ocean is a spec-designed TLP intended to shave off up to 18 months from design. 'We could go into construction mode in about six months,' says Chris Barton, FloaTEC director of business acquisition. That will be important, he says, as operators look for a shortened cycle time. With Blue Ocean, he notes, 'You've got an 80% solution in three years versus a 100% solution in five years.' The solution is more aimed at the independents, he says. 'We've got some good bites, but nobody's willing to pull the trigger.' <br><br> One solution that many talk about but dont often take up, Poll says is early production systems (EPS). 'Early production is a great idea, but I think the execution, the right implementation, has not come along to make everybody happy,' Poll says, adding, 'at least not in the Gulf of Mexico.' Poll suggests one of the hold-backs operators experience is that EPS must be economically justified. There's also, he notes, the need to process different types of hydrocarbons from different types of reservoirs. <br><br><strong>Deeper water </strong><br> 'We're going into deeper water,' Poll says. 'More importantly, we're going into deepwater regions where the industry is less mature.' <br><br> In deepwater regions outside the Gulf of Mexico, that means less pipeline infrastructure. By default, the production solution often becomes an FPSO. 'We just haven't been in deepwater that long as an industry, but there are FPSOs worldwide,' Chianis points out. 'But we don't have any yet in the Gulf of Mexico, and that's because of the potential for hurricane conditions.' <br><br> The US Gulf of Mexico's first FPSO, the disconnectable FPSO <em>Pioneer</em>, is slated to begin producing Petrobras' deepwater Cascade and Chinook fields in Walker Ridge block 205 in 8200ft of water in mid- 2010. 'Every day were asked to go into deeper and deeper water,' Chianis says. 'Risk seems to be multiplied many times when youre in deepwater.' When it comes to deepwater facilities, he says, the industry is still learning. <br><br><img title="Harris Knecht, Exmar Offshore" alt="Harris Knecht, Exmar Offshore" txdam="1209" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/news-images/article_content/OE_Issues/October_2009/harris_knecht.jpg" height="99" width="125" />Knecht agrees, adding: 'We don't always need a lot of science [above ground]. We don't always need a lot of technology. We know we can do what we have to do. [We can] drill and produce in deepwater if we want to. It's a matter of making the economics work.' <br><br> Part of it, Knecht says, will come from improving what the industry already has. He traces the history of drilling from jackups to moored rigs to floating drilling with dynamic positioning. 'Production is undergoing the same history as drilling,' Knecht says. 'As drilling goes into deeper water, production goes into deeper water, and you need step changes.' <br><br> The need for an economically sound project is more apparent than ever with the spate of smaller fields the industry has found but has yet to produce. <br><br> 'If the industry is to be successful in deepwater, we've got to come up with a way to exploit smaller reserves,' Barton says. He cites the example of the 150 million barrel fields that are not being produced. 'What [operators] tell me is they can't develop them because its too expensive.' The solution Barton envisions is fit-for-purpose. 'That could be smaller spars, smaller TLPs.' <br><br> Barton notes Petrobras recently called for a new round of bids on its Papa Terra project offshore Brazil after the initial bids came in well over budget. After refining the project specs from a full drilling TLP tied to an FPSO similar to the Kizomba approach offshore Angola, a new request for proposals asked for bids on a smaller facility that relied on tender assist drilling, similar to the Okume field offshore Equatorial Guinea (<em>OE</em> October 2006). <br><br><img title="FloaTEC's E-Semi (left) and Truss Semi designs." alt="FloaTEC's E-Semi (left) and Truss Semi designs." txdam="1208" src="http://www.oilonline.com/Portals/0/news-images/article_content/OE_Issues/October_2009/e-semi_truss_semi.jpg" height="357" width="380" />'We're just trying to reduce the cost of this thing to make the field economic,' Barton says. 'They're going to have to come up with innovative ways to reduce the size of these platforms.' Some solutions may lie in the form of tender assist, leasing rather than purchasing, and refraining from overdesigning facilities, he says. No matter how many dollars facilities engineers can trim from their budgets, drilling and completion still take up the lions share of any field development budget, he adds. 'The facility cost is a very small percentage of the total development cost.' <br><br> Barton says FloaTEC is currently focused on optimizing hull forms, such as angling columns on semis to improve hydrodynamics and reducing size and complexity. Another effort, he says, is to make designs more construction friendly. 'Constructability is a big part of it,' Barton says. 'We're looking at installability. We're looking at constructability. We're looking at design. All three.' <br><br> One worry Barton voices is about the continued delay or postponement of projects. 'Gulf of Mexico yards are empty. Installation equipment is idle, and engineering companies are struggling,' he says, noting that development spending had been fairly high for the last five to seven years. 'Oil companies have created what I call a portfolio gap' because now they are focused more on exploration and appraisal spending, rather than a more balanced approach, Barton says. 'It's created this gap. There's a lot of spare capacity in the industry right now.' <br><br> Knecht says some of the reason for the slowdown on orders 'the shipbuilding industry got overheated,' he adds is tied to cost. 'The trend has to go back to be consistent with the oil price,' he says. <br><br> A trend Knecht says has caught his eye is floating liquefaction for LNG. 'The foray into floating liquefaction is the logical next step for us to work on,' he says. Exmar is working on a solution with Excelerate and is participating in pre-conceptual and pre-FEEDs for various applications, he says. Where we jump off depends on finding a gas molecule owner who wants to pursue this.' <br><br> While it has some similarities to floating oil, the cryogenic environment complicates the picture. 'Putting a cryogenic hose in the water hasn't been solved yet,' Knecht says. The industry, he adds, hasnt figured out how to handle the low temperatures in the water while floating at the same time. 'Everybody wants to make LNG look like oil, so that's the holy grail, so any tanker can come up and offload it.' <br><br> Knecht figures it's a goal achievable in about two decades unless the industry decides to turn its investment dollars toward finding a solution. Until then, he says, offloading will have to be side-by-side. The topsides for floating liquefaction are not more complicated than the topsides for oil, he says, just different. 'We don't see any technology or production hurdles in producing these.' There is no floating liquefaction yet, he says, but for a change, 'everybody wants to be the first'. <strong><em>OE</em></strong><br><br><strong>Issue: October 2009<br> by: Jennifer Pallanich</strong> <br><br>1-Oct-09 12:00 PM Keeping deepwater economics afloat As the main visible component of a producing deepwater field and a costly one the floating facility may eventually give way to a wholly subsea production solution. Until the industry is ready for that, though, floating facility design firms are looking at economic ways to meet operator needs in ultra-deepwater. Jennifer Pallanich discusses solutions, challenges and trends with some industry leaders. Putting all production elements subsea appeals for a variety of reasons, but two primary goals are to protect the environment and eliminate both the topsides equipment and associated personnel. 'Of course, the long-term vision is to put everything on the seafloor, but we're not there yet', says Michael Ming, president of Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA). 'The long-term goal is surface host elimination.' For now, the leading edge of the industry is working to produce discoveries in water depths of a mile and a half and deeper. And in the Gulf of Mexico, where there's plenty of distance stretching out between ultra-deepwater finds, that means a tieback will not work for all finds. 'If you can't put a floating facility on it, then you've got to put in a long tie-back', Ming says. The industry is, and will continue to, push tieback limits, Ming notes. Simultaneously, he says, the industry has focused on making deepwater production facilities more economic. One element of that is a drytree solution for ultra-deepwater. 'Direct vertical access is a real key issue', says John Chianis, president of Houston Offshore Engineering (HOE). 'Having that captive drill rig on the platform lets [operators] maintain their wells so much better.' To that end, RPSEA manages a consortium of over 145 organizations and universities participating in a $50 million per year, decade-long program funded by the US Department of Energy aimed at increasing the amount of the countrys reserves that are produced. Of that money, RPSEA earmarked $1 million to promote the development of a deep draft dry tree semisubmersible solution as an alternative to the spar, which supports a dry tree but is uneconomic beyond a certain water depth, depending on the metocean conditions of the region. 'The advantages of a dry tree are obvious. What the operators want is a way to gain those advantages in the ultradeepwater economically,' explains HOE's manager of projects, Philip Poll. 'If we can give them a semi that can handle dry trees, then they would just love it.' The research program, Ming says, is part of an integrated approach. RPSEA is involved in a host of other research efforts, all intended to make hydrocarbon discovery and recovery more efficient and less costly. Eight operators participated in RPSEA's Ultra Deepwater (UDW) Program by providing design criteria and evaluation of the three competing concepts. The three structural designs were selected from FloaTEC and Houston Offshore Engineering. 'All three designs, once matured, met the performance requirements that were specified,' Ming says. 'The primary difference between the concepts came down to offshore construction. While the FloaTEC E-Semi and Truss Semi solutions were feasible, practical and had some advantages over the HOE design,' Ming says, the operators committee selected HOE's Paired-Column Dry Tree Semi (see Paired columns add stability), which leaves the quayside complete, to move into the next design stage and model testing. HOE is expected to complete front end engineering this fall, and the solution should be project-ready when thats complete. Poll says experts the operators who need floating dry tree units in the ultra-deepwater specified the problem they needed solved, and through the RPSEA program HOE was able to devise a solution. 'If you have the dry tree solution, youre going to get more oil,' he says, because of the ease of interventions on a dry tree. As part of the final work on the Paired Column Semi design, a wind test began in September and a wave test is scheduled for January 2010. Once those are complete, Poll says, it's simply a matter of convincing the industry that its ready for prime time. 'To us, a huge part of commercialization is the testing,' Poll says. With memories of hurricanes Katrina and Rita still looming large, a dry tree semi with motions equivalent to a spar is a must. 'Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico the past few years have really shown to be a very critical issue,' Chianis says. 'In the 2004/05 season, we saw a few hurricanes that exceeded the design criteria that we were using.' As a result of these fierce storms, the industry modified its wind and wave criteria. 'That has had a significant effect on our new designs,' Chianis says. 'It's the combination of wind and wave that gives rise to one of the key areas of concern these days, which we call air gap,' he says. The wind and waves create 'a whole series of increased forces on the platform that [the industry] had not expected,' Chianis says. Model testing had become routine, he notes, but with the new criteria, theres now more emphasis on testing, especially for the verification of air gap. While the HOE design is the only one that moved forward in the RPSEA program, other engineering firms have been progressing their own solutions without the benefit of the RPSEA funding. Exmar is moving forward with its on-spec OPTI-EX (OE April). The firms deep-draft floating production semi has gone through final commissioning and is in Ingleside, Texas, awaiting a contract. Samsung built the hull in Korea and Kiewit built the deck in Ingleside. The mating was performed at Kiewit in May. The OPTI-EX has come in on-budget and on-time, says Harris Knecht, president of Exmar Offshore. We had the luxury of the management allowing us good engineering time, he adds. While not an ultra-deepwater dry tree solution, FloaTEC began promoting its Blue Ocean project last year. The Blue Ocean is a spec-designed TLP intended to shave off up to 18 months from design. 'We could go into construction mode in about six months,' says Chris Barton, FloaTEC director of business acquisition. That will be important, he says, as operators look for a shortened cycle time. With Blue Ocean, he notes, 'You've got an 80% solution in three years versus a 100% solution in five years.' The solution is more aimed at the independents, he says. 'We've got some good bites, but nobody's willing to pull the trigger.' One solution that many talk about but dont often take up, Poll says is early production systems (EPS). 'Early production is a great idea, but I think the execution, the right implementation, has not come along to make everybody happy,' Poll says, adding, 'at least not in the Gulf of Mexico.' Poll suggests one of the hold-backs operators experience is that EPS must be economically justified. There's also, he notes, the need to process different types of hydrocarbons from different types of reservoirs. Deeper water 'We're going into deeper water,' Poll says. 'More importantly, we're going into deepwater regions where the industry is less mature.' In deepwater regions outside the Gulf of Mexico, that means less pipeline infrastructure. By default, the production solution often becomes an FPSO. 'We just haven't been in deepwater that long as an industry, but there are FPSOs worldwide,' Chianis points out. 'But we don't have any yet in the Gulf of Mexico, and that's because of the potential for hurricane conditions.' The US Gulf of Mexico's first FPSO, the disconnectable FPSO Pioneer, is slated to begin producing Petrobras' deepwater Cascade and Chinook fields in Walker Ridge block 205 in 8200ft of water in mid- 2010. 'Every day were asked to go into deeper and deeper water,' Chianis says. 'Risk seems to be multiplied many times when youre in deepwater.' When it comes to deepwater facilities, he says, the industry is still learning. Knecht agrees, adding: 'We don't always need a lot of science [above ground]. We don't always need a lot of technology. We know we can do what we have to do. [We can] drill and produce in deepwater if we want to. It's a matter of making the economics work.' Part of it, Knecht says, will come from improving what the industry already has. He traces the history of drilling from jackups to moored rigs to floating drilling with dynamic positioning. 'Production is undergoing the same history as drilling,' Knecht says. 'As drilling goes into deeper water, production goes into deeper water, and you need step changes.' The need for an economically sound project is more apparent than ever with the spate of smaller fields the industry has found but has yet to produce. 'If the industry is to be successful in deepwater, we've got to come up with a way to exploit smaller reserves,' Barton says. He cites the example of the 150 million barrel fields that are not being produced. 'What [operators] tell me is they can't develop them because its too expensive.' The solution Barton envisions is fit-for-purpose. 'That could be smaller spars, smaller TLPs.' Barton notes Petrobras recently called for a new round of bids on its Papa Terra project offshore Brazil after the initial bids came in well over budget. After refining the project specs from a full drilling TLP tied to an FPSO similar to the Kizomba approach offshore Angola, a new request for proposals asked for bids on a smaller facility that relied on tender assist drilling, similar to the Okume field offshore Equatorial Guinea (OE October 2006). 'We're just trying to reduce the cost of this thing to make the field economic,' Barton says. 'They're going to have to come up with innovative ways to reduce the size of these platforms.' Some solutions may lie in the form of tender assist, leasing rather than purchasing, and refraining from overdesigning facilities, he says. No matter how many dollars facilities engineers can trim from their budgets, drilling and completion still take up the lions share of any field development budget, he adds. 'The facility cost is a very small percentage of the total development cost.' Barton says FloaTEC is currently focused on optimizing hull forms, such as angling columns on semis to improve hydrodynamics and reducing size and complexity. Another effort, he says, is to make designs more construction friendly. 'Constructability is a big part of it,' Barton says. 'We're looking at installability. We're looking at constructability. We're looking at design. All three.' One worry Barton voices is about the continued delay or postponement of projects. 'Gulf of Mexico yards are empty. Installation equipment is idle, and engineering companies are struggling,' he says, noting that development spending had been fairly high for the last five to seven years. 'Oil companies have created what I call a portfolio gap' because now they are focused more on exploration and appraisal spending, rather than a more balanced approach, Barton says. 'It's created this gap. There's a lot of spare capacity in the industry right now.' Knecht says some of the reason for the slowdown on orders 'the shipbuilding industry got overheated,' he adds is tied to cost. 'The trend has to go back to be consistent with the oil price,' he says. A trend Knecht says has caught his eye is floating liquefaction for LNG. 'The foray into floating liquefaction is the logical next step for us to work on,' he says. Exmar is working on a solution with Excelerate and is participating in pre-conceptual and pre-FEEDs for various applications, he says. Where we jump off depends on finding a gas molecule owner who wants to pursue this.' While it has some similarities to floating oil, the cryogenic environment complicates the picture. 'Putting a cryogenic hose in the water hasn't been solved yet,' Knecht says. The industry, he adds, hasnt figured out how to handle the low temperatures in the water while floating at the same time. 'Everybody wants to make LNG look like oil, so that's the holy grail, so any tanker can come up and offload it.' Knecht figures it's a goal achievable in about two decades unless the industry decides to turn its investment dollars toward finding a solution. Until then, he says, offloading will have to be side-by-side. The topsides for floating liquefaction are not more complicated than the topsides for oil, he says, just different. 'We don't see any technology or production hurdles in producing these.' There is no floating liquefaction yet, he says, but for a change, 'everybody wants to be the first'. OE Issue: October 2009 by: Jennifer Pallanich no http://www.houston-offshore.com/en/art/3/ Jennifer Pllanich - noemail@houston-offshore.com Thu, 01 Oct 2009 17:00:00 GMT