Shell Awards LOI to SBM Offshore for Fram FPSO Project in UK North Sea

Schematic Fram Project
Schematic of the proposed Fram Project, image: Shell (click for larger)

SBM Offshore announced today that they have received a letter of interim award (LOIA) from Shell for the supply, lease and operation of a FPSO for the Fram field in the UK sector of the North Sea. The LOIA allows SBM Offshore to commence engineering and procurement of long lead items to ensure timely completion of the planned Fram FPSO project, which is subject to a Final Investment Decision.

In March 2012, Shell and SBM Offshore signed an Enterprise Framework Agreement (EFA) covering a term of five years, with an option to extend for another five years, to supply small and medium sized FPSOs globally on a lease and operate basis. The Fram FPSO, subject to a Final Investment Decision, will be the first project to be developed under the terms of the EFA.

Bruno Chabas CEO of SBM Offshore said:

“We are delighted by the letter of interim award for this FPSO lease and operate project in the North Sea for Shell.  This award reaffirms our strategy to focus on FPSOs as we develop SBM Offshore’s position as the world’s leading FPSO provider. The agreement signed earlier in the year is a commitment to work with Shell on a long term basis to develop offshore floating solutions. We look forward to developing many more FPSO projects with Shell around the world in the future”.

The hull of the FPSO will be based on a converted Aframax tanker and will incorporate an internal turret permanent mooring system. The crude will be offloaded to shuttle tankers and the gas exported via the existing Fulmar pipeline.

Shell’s decision to use this type of FPSO conversion was favoured over a new-build FPSO because of a shorter execution time while accommodating the topsides equipment required for the Fram FPSO. In line with other FPSOs in the central North Sea, this size of vessel is also appropriate for the metocean and environmental conditions.

Conversion of the tanker will take place in an existing shipyard located in the Far East or Middle East.  The tanker to be converted will be single decked with a double hull and the upgrades will include:

â–  installation of the new turret and swivel, forward of mid-ships allowing the FPSo to weathervane, thus maintaining station keeping without the use of power;
â–  installation of either 3 x 3 or 3 x 4 anchor line mooring system;
â–  installation of new power and utilities modules;
â–  installation of topsides process modules;
â–  installation of new flare;
â–  installation of new offloading arrangements;
â–  new or upgraded accommodation; and
â–  installation of helideck.

About the Fram Field:

Following discovery of the Fram field in 1969, three appraisal wells have been drilled, one in 1999 and two in 2009. the appraisal drilling and well testing operations in 2009 proved that sufficient recoverable volumes of hydrocarbons existed to justify the progression of the Fram field towards development. Shell and Esso Exploration Production U.K. Limited jointly own the development blocks, with Shell being the designated operator and the programme coordinator of the development of the Fram field.

The Fram field represents one of Shell’s most significant recent field developments in the UKCS central North Sea. the Fram Project will also be one of the largest field developments currently planned in the UK North Sea over the next five years.

The Fram field is an oil and gas condensate field located in the UK central North Sea approximately 221 km southeast of Aberdeen. the field will be developed via two subsea production well templates connected to a FPSO.  Oil will be exported via shuttle tanker, and gas via a new 18 km pipeline connected to the existing Fulmar Gas Pipeline.

Fram FPSO Mooring Layout
Fram FPSO proposed mooring layout, image: Shell