According to a new report by IMA, there are 121 floating production systems in operation or available as of February 2001. This is an increase of almost 90 percent over the number of units in operation five years ago. About one-quarter of the units are operating off Northern Europe, another quarter off Brazil and the remainder are mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore China/Southeast Asia, West Africa and Australia.
There has been a recent burst of orders for new floating production systems and eight production units have been ordered over the past five months: four FPSO vessels, three spars and a production semi. With these new orders, there are now 27 floating production systems being built.
A noticeable shift has taken place in type production system now being built vs. five years ago. In 1996, about one-quarter of the production units on order utilized semisubmersible hulls. Now spars comprise about one-quarter of the production units on order and only 2 of the 27 units currently on order are semisubmersibles.
Accounting for this shift in platform is the growing popularity of spars as dry completion units and the lack of suitable semisubmersible hulls that can be used for conversion to production facilities. IMA has identified 155 offshore projects in the bidding, design or planning stage where a floating production and/or storage system is being considered as a development solution.
Projects off West Africa account
for 26 percent of these planned projects and the Gulf of Mexico accounts for another 22 percent. There has been a significant drop in number of projects planned in the North Sea vs. five years ago when IMA began the reporting series.
One of the more interesting developments in the floating production sector has been the recent takeover of front-end engineering companies by contractors involved in offshore construction. Over the past six months, five engineering firms have been acquired by companies that want to vertically expand into front-end engineering to better position for deepwater bids.
Last September, IMA forecast orders for 65 to 86 floating production systems over
the next five years. The ordering rate since September has been consistent with this forecast.
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