Papa Terra makes the most of family ties

Jennifer Pallanich
Thursday, May 20, 2010

When the P-61 tension leg wellhead platform (TLWP) begins operations at Petrobras' Papa Terra offshore Brazil in 2013, it will be the new kid on the block in more ways than one. Not only will the deepwater unit be the first TLWP facility off Brazil, it is also a breakthrough project for designer FloaTEC, supported by parent companies Keppel Fels and J Ray McDermott. Jennifer Pallanich reports.

The P-61 tension leg wellhead platform – a floating dry tree unit – represents ‘a whole new era of bringing production onstream' in Brazilian waters, according to FloaTEC president Eric Namtvedt.

The P-63 FPSO and the P-61 TLWP are both on order to produce the Papa Terra field in the Campos Basin. Operator Petrobras discovered heavy oil at the field, situated in 1180m of water, in 2005.

Petrobras, which holds 62.5% of the field, and partner Chevron, with the remaining field interest, initially wanted to develop the estimated 700 million to 1 billion boe of recoverable reserves via a pair of production units and bring the field online in early 2011. The bidding two years ago came in well over what the field partners wanted to pay – as Marcus Smedley, director of business acquisition at FloaTEC, notes. ‘When it was bid in 2008, it was right at the height of the [steel] market. I remember thinking, "this is going to cost a fortune",' says Smedley, who at the time was subsea business development manager at FMC.

Also, there was no FEED, which also attributed to the initial high bids.

Petrobras and Chevron scrapped that plan and asked the bidding companies to find ways to lower their bids. Time, and some juggling, are two factors that led to winning bids submitted by BW-Quip for the FPSO and FloaTEC for the TLWP. Whereas in November 2008, the FloaTEC bid was at $1.9 billion, the bid submitted in August 2009 came in at $1.07 billion. Part of that difference, Namtvedt says, was technical, and some of it was commercial. When the second EPCI bid went in, ‘the market had softened', he says.

For instance, FloaTEC's later bid didn't include the drilling unit that was on the initial bid. Instead, the bid called for using a tender assist drilling unit for drilling-related systems, a solution that shifts the drilling work from capex to opex. While this solution is used often in shallow waters, it is carried out on only a few floaters, such as Chevron's West Seno field offshore Indonesia (OE October 2002) and the Hess-operated Okume field offshore Equatorial Guinea (OE October 2006). No company has as yet been chosen to provide the tender-assist unit.

Moving from the onboard drilling system to a tender-assist setup allowed FloaTEC to trim about 5000t from the TLWP's payload requirement. By reducing that, the company was able to redesign the TLWP. ‘With the change in the technical design basis and moving the drilling unit to the tender, we were able to redesign the TLP,' Namtvedt says.

ESP test bed
The Campos Basin field holds heavy oil weighing in at 14°API. Producing that oil will require ESPs, which will need to be replaced regularly, calling for direct access to the wells. ‘We as a company understand dry trees,' Smedley says.

According to Namtvedt, the requirement for DCUs – or dry tree completion units – seems to exist in the pre-salt areas. He says FloaTEC is working with Petrobras on the technology and will aim to build on experience at Papa Terra.

Smedley says he thinks the use of the ESPs ‘will be a test bed for [Petrobras] going forward for some of their pre-salt and post-salt discoveries.'

The TLWP unit will serve 15 top tensioned risers. There will be no processing capacity aboard the TLWP. A multiphase pump will send untreated fluid through the fluid transfer line into the FPSO 350m away from the TLWP.

BW Offshore is converting the ULCC BW Nisa into the P-63 for Papa Terra. BW is working with Brazilian consortium partners in Quip and Queiroz Galvâo Óleo e Gás (QGOG). BW will deliver the marine scope of the FPSO conversion, including the hull, offloading systems and mooring equipment for the vessel. Jointly, BW and QGOG will operate the FPSO for a period of three years with gradual handover to Petrobras, similar to the set-up between FloaTEC and Petrobras for the P-61.

Quip awarded Amec a contract to perform basic engineering services for the topsides of the P-63. Amec has begun engineering work on the project, expected to run through mid-year. Quip's Rio Grande, Brazil, facility will carry out fabrication and integration.

The P-63 FPSO will have about 16 topsides modules weighing over 14,000t. The topsides facilities include three oil processing modules, one gas compression module, three electrical power generation modules, two water treating and injection modules, one electrical building module, three utilities modules, one flare system module and two manifold modules. In addition, a pipe rack over 200m long will be designed to incorporate a material handling trolley.

The FPSO topsides facilities will be designed to process approximately 140,000b/d of crude oil, 35mmcf/d of gas and 325,000b/d of produced water, Amec says. The design also includes facilities to inject 340,000b/d of seawater.

All in the family
Winning Papa Terra ‘vindicated' the company's business model, Namtvedt says. And it happened four years – to the day – that FloaTEC was formed (OE November 2005). In fact, 2 September 2009 was a day for a second round of celebrations – that's when FloaTEC signed the Big Foot FEED contract.

FloaTEC's strategy – and strength – comes from uniting the capabilities of the parent companies: J Ray, with its spar design, and Keppel Fels, with its semi design; they jointly acquired the ETLP design. Both are long on fabrication know-how, with a combined 26 yards between the two companies and a list of credits that includes the deliveries of the Medusa, Devils Tower and Front Runner spars and the P-51, P-52 semis with P-56 nearing completion. And FloaTEC is calling on both its parents to help deliver its first full project, 37 months after signing the contract.

For Papa Terra, FloaTEC is providing the engineering design, based on an earlier project the company referred to as Blue Ocean.

FloaTEC's Blue Ocean refers to a spec-designed TLP intended to shave off up to 18 months from design. FloaTEC's Blue Ocean extended TLP (ETLP) had ‘all the components'. Through Blue Ocean, the company carried out engineering that they later drew on to complete the bid for Papa Terra. ‘Blue Ocean helped us a lot,' Namtvedt says.

FloaTEC has already kicked off engineering on the project, and the company expects that work to take a total of one year, performed out of the Houston office. FloaTEC will also manage the supply of risers, well systems and tendon components for P-61. The contract also calls for FloaTEC to operate the TLWP for three years once it begins operations, although operations will begin being phased over to Petrobras after 18 months.

J Ray's Morgan City, Louisiana, facility will fabricate the tendons, temporary buoyancy modules and piles. J Ray will also provide topsides engineering, procurement services and integration. The topsides and hull will be integrated at a nearshore site. Following quayside hook-up and commissioning work, a vessel to be determined will wet-tow the TLWP to the installation site at Papa Terra in about 1180m of water to hook up the unit to pre-installed tendons. J Ray will pre-install the anchor piles and tendons at the offshore installation site ahead of the arrival of the TLWP. It will then use the DB50 to position the integrated TLWP over the tendons and connect and tension the P-61 to ensure stability. Work is targeted for completion by mid-2013.

Keppel's BrasFels yard in Angra dos Reis will build the P-61. Keppel Fels will draw on its recent activities to deliver its portion of the contract. The fabricator has delivered two semis – the P-51 for Marlim Sul and the P-52 for Roncador – from the BrasFels yard and has a third under construction: the P-56 for Marlim Sul. Each has had increasingly higher levels of local content with the P-52 seeing all but the nodes being built in Brazil and the P-56 being built entirely in Brazil. Keppel Fels is slated to cut first steel either late this year or early 2011, right after delivering the P-56. FloaTEC will also call on Keppel Fels to participate in the structural engineering because the TLWP will fabricated at a Keppel yard.

FloaTEC is ‘using our own assets, our own yards, our own engineering team,' Namtvedt says. ‘We felt we controlled most of the elements ourselves.'

The Papa Terra TLWP will be built within the capabilities of its parent companies' assets. ‘We know because we will build them. It's part of it from the beginning,' Namtvedt says. ‘We know what our yard and vessel capacities are.'

With the call to design, fabricate and install the TLWP, Smedley says: ‘Nobody else can really do that to the extent FloaTEC can.' OE

Categories: Deepwater FPSO South America

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