Oil companies planning to locate floating production storage, and offloading vessels (FPSOs) [or floating storage and offloading vessels (FSOs)] in shallow water need to consider the performance of such operations relative to environmentally sensitive coastal habitats. This paper is based on a global study Battelle performed on FPSO safety performance and, in particular, with respect to risk management of nearshore operations. The study provides environmental best-practices benchmarks. It examines the international safety performance of FPSOs operating in various geographies and environmental conditions. To this end, it reviews risk analyses published over the past 10 years on the subject of FPSO failure hazards, such as collision, offloading failure, equipment failure, and tanker spills. The study then examines eight cases of FPSOs operating in nearshore locations around the globe identifying proven risk-mitigation and -management practices and lessons learned that might benefit future FPSO projects.
The study confirms that there is a strong safety record available on more than 1,000 years of FPSO operation around the globe. Extensive research conducted by agencies and researchers in the UK, Norway, the US, and elsewhere on FPSO design, operation, and performance offers a rich body of information on FPSO safety guidance. In addition, detailed review of the eight case studies confirms what the literature suggests: The FPSOs that have been operated to date have had a strong safety record. Very few incidents of consequence have been reported. No major incident or loss of cargo has occurred. None of the minor touches and collisions has resulted in the release of cargo. Virtually all recorded and reported releases have been small, and most of them were less than 1 bbl. Robust management systems combined with strong design and operating practices are capable of avoiding theoretical failure risks, or reducing them to very low and acceptable levels.
The results of this study suggest that there is an arsenal of measures operators can consider to ensure high safety performance of any planned FPSO. Failure and spill risks summarized in this study may be extrapolated for planned systems and proven risk reduction and mitigation measures adopted.