ABSTRACT:

This paper addresses some of the technical issues for the development of three vessel concepts for oil and gas production over the continental slope in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The paper is not intended to provide a detailed review of the analytical methods and design criteria. Instead, it is focused on technical problems being encountered for the design of deepwater production systems. Tentative solutions for those problems as well as topics for research and development are identified.

INTRODUCTION

In Part I of this paper (Chiu, 1992), the technical and operational issues of various well system concepts as well as the design aspects of deepwater risers were addressed. As a continuation, this paper addresses the technology issues for the development of a Semisubmersible Production Platform (SPP), a tanker-based Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO), and a Tension Leg Platform (TLP). Mature technology is now available for developing petroleum prospects in water depth around 1000 m by using either one of the above mentioned vessel concepts. With minor modification of the design features and hardware components, many believe that the existing technology base remains applicable for field development up to 1300 m of water. So far, a FPSO system has not been deployed in the GOM because storage of crude oil is in general not the primary functional requirement for a production platform in these water depths. In view of a field development in 2000 m of water, however, one may find that the advantages of pipeline transportation can be compromised due to the following two factors:

  1. The distance to the nearest shallow water trunk lines is in general over 70 km, and

  2. The produced fluid must be pumped up the slope from 2000 m to around 100 m water depth.

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