The Offshore Oil and Gas Industry has converted a large number of units from trading tankers and carriers into Floating Production, Storage and Offloading units (FPSOs). Several of these have been moored offshore Brazil during the last 15 years. Following the discovery of offshore pre-salt fields some years ago, demand for FPSOs has increased, and the forecasts for productive field lives have grown. The result of these developments is the need to extend the service lives of existing FPSOs.
The main aim of this study is to investigate FPSO structural response to environmental conditions and functional loads, considering the actual available tools for numerical simulations and Rule requirements, which currently are basic requirements for design review for Classification.
The procedure was developed from one selected FPSO converted from a trading Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) tanker approximately 15 years ago and includes investigation of the impact on hull behavior comparing the motion analyses of the production unit under environmental data and software capabilities available at the period of conversion and actual performance: variances in the environmental (sea scatter diagrams) datasets; updates to Classification requirements for defining offloading conditions, environmental loads, acceptance criteria and remaining fatigue life (RFL); and incorporating the most recent gauged thickness for primary structure.
The selected FPSO was evaluated according to prescriptive Rule requirements and also using finite element analysis, taking into account the previous conditions of Classification approval as well as the actual requirements and available data. Structural analysis included one global model and some local refined models to address strength, buckling and fatigue capacity of the typical portions/connections of the hull.
The comparisons performed from the results of these analyses are a crucial step toward understanding the structural capacity of the FPSO at the conversion stage, its performance during the last 15 years, and its remaining service life.
Differences were tabulated and evaluated so that a more precise level of uncertainty could be achieved for predicting the estimated remaining service life, and consequently, a new and dedicated approach to investigate the existing FPSO fleet is being generated.