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Decision Support

Tool for FPSO

Floater Selection

N.P. van Haalen

Master Thesis: Extended Abstract

Decision Support
Tool for FPSO
Floater Selection

N.P. van Haalen

to obtain the degree of
Master of Science
in Offshore and Dredging Engineering
at the Delft University of Technology
in cooperation with
SBM Offshore N.V.
Schiedam, The Netherlands,
to be defended publicly on Thursday March 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM.

Student number: 1529021

Project duration: February 8, 2016 – March 16, 2017
Thesis committee: Prof. ir. J.J. Hopman, TU Delft, chairman
Ir. R.G. Hekkenberg, TU Delft
Dr. ing. S. Schreier, TU Delft
Dr. ir. A. Bereznitski, SBM Offshore, supervisor

The full version of this thesis is confidential and cannot be made public until March 16, 2027.

An electronic version of this extended abstract is available at

Extended Abstract

1 Introduction
Challenging offshore fields in harsh environments and poor infrastructure call for sophisticated
Floating Production Storage and Offloading solutions. Conventional conversions provided the bulk of
these platforms in the past, but their limits are pushed as demand for larger facilities and capacity
increases the value of new build alternatives. Within SBM Offshore, the need arises to assess different
floater options time-effectively to maintain their competitive position in a shrunken offshore market
that is still recovering from the oil price drop in 2014. The goal of this assessment is to select the main
dimensions and required tank layout of a floater to meet the client's specifications, while complying
with the prescribed criteria. The scope of this thesis is limited to ship-shaped FPSOs.

1.1 Problem Definition

As FPSOs typically have a high center of gravity, using an existing vessel and adding increasingly large
topsides causes stability to become a critical aspect. Evaluating stability is currently a time-consuming
task, which forms an obstacle for quick early-stage design iterations. Especially the evaluation of
damage stability is a complex task that requires a significant amount of input and modeling of the
vessel in question. As the damage stability is governing for determining the most suitable main
dimensions and tank layout, checking if the damage stability criteria are met in the early-stage of the
design is crucial for floater selection.

1.2 Solution Strategy

The strategy used to solve this problem is to develop a method to time-effectively evaluate governing
criteria and determine initial dimensions and tank layout for conceptual FPSO floater design. Initially,
the governing criteria, critical cases and conditions are to be investigated, after which a tool can be
developed and validated using professional software. Case studies can then be performed to present
the tool's functionality and results. For floater selection, a cost estimation is to be made as this is the
key performance indicator for offshore projects.

2 Preliminary FPSO Floater Design

In FPSO floater design, the following main options are available for obtaining a suitable hull:

 Conversion
Converting tankers is considered the conventional option, which proved time- and cost-
efficient in the past. A typical conversion leads to an increase of lightweight of up to a hundred
percent, compared to the original tanker hull. The major challenge in conversion is that vessel
dimensions and layout are fixed and only minor modifications can be made before this floater
choice becomes economically unattractive.
 Redeployment
This option considers the conversion of an existing FPSO into one that is suitable for a new
project. Though considered very practical, this type of development has in the past lead to

significant overruns on schedule and budget as the new project differ significantly from the
old and the scope of work is challenging to define accurately.
 Purpose-built
Building a new vessel gives the most freedom in FPSO design and will most likely lead to the
most suitable solution. This option however, comes with a high cost as yards aim their order-
book at many standardized productions and new build vessels demand engineering a design
from scratch. The main challenges thus are the cost and the extended schedule.

2.1 Analysis of the current procedure

An analysis of the current procedure for
FPSO floater selection and concept design
is performed to ensure the newly
developed method supports the current
method. Figure 1 illustrates the current
procedure and is used to develop the main
components of the design tool.

3 Stability
Through study of recent, previously
designed and built projects, the stability
characteristics of these vessels were
further examined. A number of potential
simplifications was adopted for the
development of a tool to evaluate stability
in a reduced time-frame. MARPOL criteria
for stability, tank sizing, and allowed
outflow prevail for the operational
conditions of an FPSO. The transit
condition is not considered as sufficient
ballasting options are available during this
one-time voyage. During operation, the
maximum loading condition is governing,
while the mid-ship tanks typically cause the
most critical damage case due to partial
filling. Especially converted tankers cannot
use their full cargo capacity when topsides
weight and mooring equipment are
installed and significant modifications are
applied. Figure 1: Simplified framework illustrating the current
floater selection and design process

4 Concept Design Tool
The Concept Design Tool is developed during this thesis to set up a concept design and evaluate the
governing conditions, cases and criteria that resulted from the previous project studies. The main input
concerns requirements such as cargo capacity, topsides weight, lifetime and mooring type. Weight
estimates are based on previous projects and the amount of cargo capacity. Regression formulas
based on tanker data are then used to select suitable dimensions. The tank layout is determined based
on rules initially, but adjusted to the critical length found through the stability evaluation. A two
dimensional cross-section is used to evaluate the stability, both intact and damage, using an added
weight iteration to calculate the amount of added weight. Based on the stability evaluation, the
amount of additional modifications or the need for a different vessel becomes apparent and a rough
cost estimation can be made. The stability module is validated against Seasafe software that is
currently used to evaluate stability, but is too detailed in this stage of the design. The new tool provides
a conservative curve for
Suez-Max and VLCC
tanker conversions. The
simplifications and
assumptions illustrated
in figure 2 were taken
into account in the tool.

Figure 2: Simplifications made in tool development compared to currently

used software
5 Results
Two case studies were performed, comparing different tankers, of which one was found to be critical
with respect to damage stability beforehand. The tool proved useful in determining that this tanker
was indeed critical, but would comply if a tank is split, and indicating the second tanker potentially
would suffice without additional modifications. A new build concept was explored throughout use of
the tool and a reduction in its construction cost was estimated based on a volume and steel weight
reduction compared to the default vessel. The tank layout of the new vessel had to be changed to
compensate for a reduction in initial stability, which was possible due to the freedom in new built

5.1 Case Study One: VLCC Tanker Comparison

Figure 3 illustrates the different results of the stability evaluation. Initially, "Concept 1" does not meet
the damage stability criteria, but after splitting of one of the cargo tanks considered in the damage
case, its stability improved. "Concept 2" complies with damage stability criteria without the
requirement of splitting one or multiple cargo tanks. The main cause of this is the difference in main
dimensions, the VLCC selected for FPSO "Concept 2" is two meters wider and has a slightly reduced
depth. The intact stability is thus increased, leading to a relatively larger capacity for handling damage

Figure 3: Results case study one; Stability evaluation for VLCC tanker comparison

5.2 Case Study Two: Purpose-built Concept Design

Figure 4 presents the dimensions and initial stability of a new build concept compared to a default
VLCC conversion. This result is not based on an actual case, but is meant to demonstrate the use of the
tool concerning concept design. To keep costs of this new concept to a minimum, but capacity up to
specifications, the size of the vessel is reduced as much as possible. The length is reduced by 15 percent
to study the results of this change and the block coefficient is increased slightly to match the shape of
existing new build FPSOs. In order to maintain sufficient freeboard upon these changes, the depth of
the vessel is to be increased, thereby also increasing the vertical center of gravity and reducing initial
stability. To compensate, the ballast tank width was reduced significantly, making the vessel compliant
with damage stability criteria. Figure 5 illustrates the GZ curves of the default and new build concept
according to the tool.

Figure 5: Results case study two: Dimension Figure 4: Results case study two: Intact and damage GZ curve
selection for purpose-built concept design comparison for the default vessel and new concept

6 Conclusions and Recommendations
In conclusion, the main objectives have been met concerning; the investigation of governing criteria
in highly conceptual FPSO design, and the development of a concept design tool. The tool proved
useful for comparing different tankers for conversion and for creating and evaluating a new build
concept time-effectively.

Resulting from the validation of the tool, an obtained deviation in the results is assigned to the lack of
modeling of the hull shape and the change of the waterline upon heeling. This inaccuracy affects the
most governing criteria (the positive range of stability) directly, therefore providing unreliable results
for the allowable tank length and required dimensions. However, the tool delivers conservative results
and remains useful for early-stage iterations to create a basis for further design phases.

During the development of the tool, several stability design influences were observed and tested.

 The effect of adding vessel volume on the main deck, such as a deck chamber, on stability is
significant, hence this volume should be modeled when evaluating this design aspect
 The influence of the bilge shape of a vessel on static stability is minimal, but the fore and aft
shape of a vessel is to be accounted for
 The fill level of the cargo tanks and cargo density considered in a maximum draft damage case
is significant as it mainly determines the total added weight through out- and inflow
 The effect of a decrease in initial stability (GM) on the critical tank length amidships is larger
for full tanks than for empty tanks and increases with the fill level
 The effect of placing the wing tank / center tank bulkhead further outward, on damage
stability, is marginal
 The influence on damage stability of reducing the dimensions of the double hull is significant,
but potentially results in side-effects unaccounted for in the design tool

Application of the tool should be performed while implementing the above-mentioned conclusions as
far as reasonably possible. It does not give final answers and a margin should always be taken into
account when evaluating concept feasibility.

6.1 Recommendations for Further Research

Though the main tanker types used for large FPSO conversions have been validated, additional cases
are to be validated in order to improve the understanding of the obtained deviations. Furthermore,
new build hull shapes and their effects on stability require thorough investigation and implementation
in the tool, before it provides reliable answers.

Due to the current level of accuracy of the tool, a recommendation is to investigate possibilities of
rapid three dimensional floater modeling for performing damage stability checks. This way the tool is
able to take into account the shape of the hull and its effect on stability, and thus able to more
accurately determine dimensions and tank layout. Using a three dimensional tool allows for trim and
additional damage cases to be considered in the evaluation, but also leads to a significantly longer
computation and, most importantly, set-up time. An important aspect is to keep the tool highly
conceptual and allow for early-stage iterations, emphasizing the requirement for quick hull
adjustments in the process.

[1] MARPOL 73/78. International Maritime Organization, 2002. Chapter II, regulation 13 and Chapter
III, regulation 22-25.

[2] International Convention on Load Lines. International Maritime Organization, London, United King-
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[3] SOLAS. International Maritime Organization, 2009.

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2 Bibliography

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