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FPSO ship for offshore oil production

Combination of various displacement pumps for a smooth oil production from NETZSCH

FPSO ship for offshore oil production
A Floating Production Storage and Offloading Unit (FPSO) is a ship for the offshore production. With the help of drilling platforms or from boreholes it can be used for the production, storage, cleaning and loading of the extracted oil or natural gas. Several different pump technologies from NETZSCH were successfully installed in such a ship.


Immense effort is required to access new deposits: It can take years of preparation before a new oil field is developed. For offshore wells, oil producers now frequently are opting for a Floating Production, Storage and Offloading Unit (FPSO). The FPSO is flexible and can be used to store, process and load the extracted crude oil or natural gas, as well as for pumping. Particularly for offshore operations, establishing FPSO helps to cut down on expensive pipelines leading to the production site. That means even fields with a short life span or far from the coast can be developed cost-effectively. NETZSCH Pumpen & Systeme GmbH impressed with in-depth knowledge for offshore pumping and a pump portfolio that precisely meet the respective requirements of the FPSO.

One of the world's largest oil companies decided to realize just such a flexible production unit off the coast of Great Britain. Up to 45,000 barrels per day are produced at the new site. Efficient operation is important to the company, especially in view of volatile oil prices, so the company was looking for a solution to be profitable even at world market prices of less than 40 US dollars per barrel. Efficiency is also a priority for the technology used on the platform, both for the primary tasks associated with oil production and for secondary processes such as crude oil processing. The oil company's partner in charge of engineering and construction therefore turned to NETZSCH for the pumping technology. NETZSCH has an extensive portfolio of technology for pumping liquid media, and the required expertise in the oil and gas industry to meet such high demands. NETZSCH is familiar with the challenges involved in pumping a wide range of media for the industry and offers the right solution for every application. The portfolio includes special technologies for extending the life of oil wells that are drying up, for increasing the efficiency of existing oil fields, and for the safe and efficient production of low-quality or high-viscosity crude oil. "We do especially well in the offshore sector– not least because NETZSCH concentrates its combined knowledge of the industry and its applications in a specialised business field with a global presence," says Ulrich Eibl, Head of the Oil & Gas Mid-/Downstream global business field at NETZSCH. Eibl also knows that, on the high seas especially where every repair job involves enormous costs, customers need very low-maintenance technology that functions simply, is reliable and has long life cycles. "After all, downtime on an FPSO quickly adds up to several million US dollars in losses per day", the pump expert explains. Eibl is also familiar with the dimensioning requirements, as every inch of space is used to operate platforms as efficiently as possible. Therefore the design of the pumping system has to be as space saving as possible.

Three different types of pumps operate off the English coast: a rotary lobe, a multi screw and a progressing cavity pump. Each model has been developed perfectly for its specific application.

The TORNADO® rotary lobe pump T.Proc® is used to clean the marine diesel oil. "Since maintaining and cleaning all the components at a remote site such as an FPSO is expensive and time-consuming, the fuel used for the power supply is cleaned in a separator," Eibl explains. This keeps engines and tanks clean and makes sure that the fuel is of a consistently high quality – an approach that has proven to be valuable and that also ensures a longer service life for the engines.

NOTOS® multi screw pumps are used around the FPSO ship's storage tanks. "Safety is of course the top priority for our customers," says Eibl. "To prevent even the possibility of an explosive atmosphere developing in the storage tanks for crude oil from the outset, an inert gas is produced from some of the ship's diesel fuel, which floats on top of the oil in the tanks". The 3-spindle multi screw pumps, which convey the diesel used to produce the inert gas, therefore have an essential task.

Finally, several NEMO® progressing cavity pumps are used in another area of the floating platform. Because it is a American Petroleum Institute (API) design, the pump is an extremely robust all-rounder that can be used universally. On the FPSO, the pumps take care of the produced water. "This is not waste water in the traditional sense," Eibl explains. "This is in fact reservoir water at a temperature of 50 - 60°C that comes to the surface together with the crude oil". The NEMO® units pump about 2m³ per hour against 15 bar pressure at 240 revolutions per minute. Besides oil droplets, the water contains minute rock particles from the formation deep in the seabed, as well as hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and chlorides. That means that there is a risk of corrosion and abrasion for the pump. In the event of a leak, it can even lead to toxic H2S being set free. The NEMO® comes out top again with its unique wear-resistant design, which ensures a long service life even when media is loaded with rock particles.

Thanks to its in-depth knowledge of the market, NETZSCH was able to interpret and optimally realize the various needs of the oil company. A major advantage of NETZSCH Pumps & Systems GmbH is that different pump types can be individually customized and manufactured to meet the high requirements. Thus, no customer wish remains unfulfilled.



Source: NETZSCH Pumps & Systems
Picture: Vinding, Pixabay

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