Strainstall UK Limited has announced that the company has been selected to work alongside SBM offshore on the Shell Stones project, an ultra-deep oil and gas development in the Gulf of Mexico which is currently the deepest production facility in the world at approximately 2900 meters.
The project involves the use of an FPSO which has a forward mounted turret with a disconnectable buoy (Buoyant Turret Mooring or BTM) allowing it to weather-vane in normal conditions and disconnect from the FPSO upon the approach of a hurricane so that the FPSO can sail to a safer area.
The BTM design required six specially designed load pins to measure the forces between the Buoy and the FPSO as they are an integral component of the detachable buoy system, and a critical element to ensure the safety of the FPSO and BTM. A custom design was required to meet SBM’s requirements and Strainstall was selected to design and manufacture such a loadpin.
Strainstall was contracted to produce an atypically shaped design which was ATEX and IECEx certified with internal amplifiers to monitor the clamping forces between the vessel and the detachable buoy.
Although Shell is already field operator for seven producing FPSOs globally, Stones will be Shell’s first FPSO in the Gulf of Mexico.
An FPSO design was selected to safely develop and produce the Stones ultra deep-water field. This concept design can handle a relative lack of infrastructure, a complex seabed, and unique reservoir properties. Tankers will transport oil from the Stones FPSO to US refineries, and gas will be transported by pipeline.
This will be the second FPSO in the Gulf of Mexico.
Petrobras’ was the first company to develop an offshore oil field in the area using the FPSO technology.
On September 6, 2012, Petrobras began oil production in the ultra-deep waters of the Chinook oilfield from the floating production, storage and offloading platform, FPSO BW Pioneer, moored some 250 kilometers off the coast of the State of Louisiana in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.