Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels are very relevant to many oil producing companies in worldwide. Over 270 vessels are deployed worldwide as oil FPSOs.
FPSO’s are carefully designed to receive hydrocarbons produced by itself or from nearby platforms or subsea template, process, and store oil until it can be offloaded onto a tanker or, less frequently, transported through a pipeline.
On 1st May 2010, Ghana welcomed a vessel which was named Kwame Nkrumah. According to history, the vessel was formerly owned by a Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, a Japan based company known for manufacturing ships. The vessel formerly known as VLCC tanker Tohdoh, was later bought by MODEC at US$42.5 million. It was converted into FPSO by SembCorp Marine in Singapore at Jurong Shipyard.
Over the years, the vessel stands out as one that uses the biggest turret ever constructed in the oil industry. It can process 120,000 barrels per day (19,000 m3/d) of oil and 160 million cubic feet (4.5×106 m3) of production gas, with a storage capacity of 1.6 million barrels (250×103 m3).
It has 17 modules weighing more than 12,500 tonnes installed on it. The modules include a water treatment plant, a crude separation plant, a chemical injection plant, a gas processing and injection plant, and a 120-room accommodation.
The 330 metres long and 65 metres wide, will in the year be 7 years old. The vessel has in seven years suffered about four shut downs. In January 2013, the vessel operators announced its first shut down for maintenance work, this followed with another shut down in second half of 2014.
Furthermore, the third shutdown was in July 2015, after Tullow Ghana announced the shutdown of the vessel. During this maintenance shut down, management of the vessel explained that, its shutdown is in fulfilment of the company’s key value of ensuring global maintenance and integrity standards used throughout the Oil and Gas industry.
In February 2016, the operators of the facility announced its fourth shutdown for mandatory inspection and maintenance.. The shutdown, as explained by the operators was to run for fifteen days, to allow for an interconnection between the Tweneboa, Enyera, Ntomme (TEN) fields and the Jubilee Field for gas exportation to the Ghana Gas Company.
This year, the founder of Ghana, whose name was given to the FPSO will be hundred and eight years. According to 2016 Semi Report on Ghana’s Petroleum Revenue Management issued by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee indicates that crude oil production from the Jubilee Field declined by 40% from 19.08 million barrels in mid-year 2015 to 11.44 million barrels over the same period in 2016.
This the report further explained was due to the decline in production which was largely caused by a combination of scheduled shutdowns of the FPSO for routine maintenance and a faulty turret bearing which led to the suspension of oil production for up to 50 days.
Management of FPSO Kwame Nkrumah in October last year announced its intention for the implementation of new operating procedures, including the use of tug boats for heading control and a dynamically positioned (DP) shuttle tanker and a storage vessel for offloading. This is because of low production the company faced in 2016 associated with the turret bearing issue identified on the Jubilee FPSO in February 2016.
Currently, a second phase of work to remove the load of the turret and risers from the bearing to allow the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah to be rotated to its optimal spread moor is expected to start in April this year, 2017.
A total cost of about $150 million gross, will be used for the first two phases. The vessel will be shut down for 8 to12 weeks for work to be done. Upon completion of the spread mooring work programme, management are optimistic that production will return to the levels achieved before the turret bearing issue occurred.
Ghana has two other Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels called FPSO Atta Mills and FPSO John Agyekum Kufuor.