Growing Number of Production Floater Projects Planned, Under Study

The number of production floater projects planned or under study is growing worldwide, according to a recent report by International Maritime Associates Inc. (IMA).

IMA has identified 216 projects now in the bidding, design or planning stage that could potentially require a floating production or storage system, up from 210 floating production projects identified as in the planning or bidding stage in November 2011. Five years ago, 109 projects had been identified, according to the IMA.

"The growth in number of planned projects reflects the solid fundamentals underlying the floating production sector," said Jim McCaul, head of IMA, in a statement.

Additionally, 150 drillships and deepwater drill semisubmersibles ordered since 2005 have removed a bottleneck constraining exploration and development in deepwater, resulting in a dramatic increase in floater projects in the planning pipeline, McCaul added.

Orders for 130 to 190 production floaters are forecast over the next five years, with floating production, storage and offloading vessels (FPSOs) to comprise approximately 75 percent of future production floater orders.

The remaining 25 percent will be production semisubmersibles, spars, tension leg platforms (TLPs), floating liquefied natural gas vessels and floating storage and regasification units.

Around 60 percent of orders will be placed by leasing contractors, and 40 percent by field operators, McCaul said, adding that "modification and redeployment of existing FPSOs will satisfy around 20 percent of future FPSO requirements."

FPSOs Comprise More Than Half of Existing Production Floater Fleet

Currently, the global floating production fleet now stands at 257 units, a 30 percent increase from five years ago and 90 higher than a decade ago.

FPSOs comprise 62 percent of the existing global production floater fleet; the remainder is comprised of production semisubmersibles, TLPs, production spars, production barges and floating regasification/storage units.

Seven units of the global fleet, all FPSOs, are off field and available for redeployment. The overall utilization rate for the global production floater fleet is 97.3 percent.

The current order backlog of production floater units will increase inventory by 25 percent, IMA said. This backlog consists of 67 production floaters, including 45 FPSOs, five production semisubmersibles, three TLPs, three spars, two floating liquefied natural gas units and nine floating storage regasification units.

Brazil, Southeast Asia and West Africa account for 62 percent of the planned production floater projects; Brazil has 51 potential floater projects, the most of any region. Brazil is also leading globally in ultra-deepwater projects, with 45 percent of projects to be in water depths greater than 4,921 feet (1,500 meters) offshore Brazil.

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com

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