In recent years increases to the domestic production of oil and gas have seen an expansion of the number and size of export terminals in the United States. At the export terminal, storage of production fluids must be managed against the availability of the terminal for export. Severe weather can disrupt export operations, and an inappropriately managed or configured terminal will be exposed to increased risk of production downtime. This can lead to millions of dollars in lost production revenue, in addition to costs such as demurrage. In order to minimize these costs, an understanding of the importance of the key items in the export terminal system, from the reservoir to the offloading vessel and, in some instances, through to the offloading at the final customer, is essential. The development of Availability Studies (also known as Uptime Studies) can deliver such detailed and accurate assessments of export terminals. A model has been developed which, when adapted to the specifics of a given export terminal, allows for the rapid evaluation of the effects of various system parameters and configurations.
This paper presents the structure of the export terminal model, the inputs required to conduct an uptime study and the results of uptime studies for two different export terminals. The studies demonstrate the importance of understanding numerous key parameters such as production requirements, storage capacity, export operation limits, offloading rates, 24 hour connection operations, the impact of variation in parcel size, and local environment restrictions such as seastates, specific current or tidal restrictions. Each of these parameters must be understood in terms of the effect on the performance of the terminal, which can be measured in terms of shut-in and demurrage risks. With this understanding the configuration of the terminal can be optimized, and potential improvements to the terminal can be evaluated. Optimization of the terminal should consider the effect of each parameter on safety, environmental and commercial risks, which can then be used to make risk based decisions on the configuration of the terminal.