FPSO Environmental Risk Management

Metzger, Bernhard (Battelle) | Salmond, Donald A. (Battelle) | Tilstone, Alan (Battelle)


Oil companies planning to locate FPSOs (or 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 an environmental best practices benchmark. 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 ten years on the subject of major FPSO failure hazards, such as collision, offloading, 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 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 United Kingdom, Norway, the United States 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 an extraordinary safety record. Very few incidents, such as collisions and spills have occurred. 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 one barrel. As one oil company representative stated, an "all-accidents-are-avoidable?? mindset combined with strong design and
operating practices and systems are capable of avoiding or reducing theoretical failure risks to very low and acceptable levels.

The results of this study suggest there is an arsenal of measures operators can consider in order 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.

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