Responsible recovery

One organisation that is keen to play a full part in the responsible recovery of oil and gas to meet future needs is Bluewater Energy Services B.V.

The company’s aim going forward is to continue to advance this sector by supporting a balanced approach to offshore production operations and affording full respect to the lasting integrity of the environment.
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Since its foundation in 1978, Bluewater has rapidly established itself as a technological leader, specialising in the design, development, lease and operation of Floating Production Storage and Offloading systems (FPSOs), which are tanker based production and storage systems. In addition, Bluewater has developed some of the most innovative Single Point Mooring (SPM) systems currently in service, ranging from Catenary Anchor Leg Mooring (CALM) buoys and Loading Towers to Turret Mooring Systems that are integrated within the structure of FPSOs and FSOs.

Operating from its headquarters in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, Bluewater works on a truly global scale with offices in the UK, USA, Malaysia, South Africa, China, Nigeria, Angola, Russia and the UAE. Since 1985, Bluewater has leased its FPSOs to oil companies for the production of their offshore oil and gas fields worldwide. The business has the experience needed to help producers maximise production and efficiency, minimise downtime and overcome a host of economic, environmental, logistical and technological challenges.

Bluewater continues to provide the core engineering and design expertise needed to develop FPSOs, through conversion of existing tankers or through newbuild projects. Having the required technical expertise in-house minimises reliance on subcontractors, enabling Bluewater to better manage the risks associated with project interfaces.

The company currently owns and operates seven FPSOs: the Glas Dowr, the Uisge Gorm, Jotun, the Bleo Holm, the Hæwene Brim and the  Munin, which are operating in the UK and Norwegian Sectors of the North Sea, and further at locations such as South Africa and China. In addition, the self-connecting and disconnecting FPSO – the Aoka Mizu – will be deployed by the company on the Ettrick field this summer.

From its early days, Bluewater has gained a wealth of engineering and operational experience in providing solutions for oil and gas transfer and mooring in an offshore environment. Some recent examples are the Tower Wishbone Mooring system for the Peng Lai FPSO in Bohai Bay, China, the Oil export Loading Tower for the Sakhalin I development, and the disconnectable Turret Mooring System for the Aoka Mizu FPSO.
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In 2005, Bluewater successfully designed, constructed and delivered the SPM for ExxonMobil’s Sakhalin I project in Sakhalin Island. This particular system is categorised as an “Arctic Loading Tower” and ensures the safe export of crude oil from the shore terminal in De Kastri to loading tankers offshore. The harsh arctic environmental conditions found in areas like offshore Sakhalin Island present a number of challenges for designing loading systems. Bluewater has designed systems for oil, condensate, LPG (Liquefied petroleum Gas), LNG (Liquefied natural Gas) and pressurised gas and has adapted these concepts for the local environmental conditions, and specialised tankers involved.

The business has taken on a similar approach in developing LNG transfer systems from prototype to commercial application with the same kind of verve that it used to develop FPSOs in the early days of offshore oil production, roughly 30 years ago. These are now routinely deployed in offshore projects around the globe, from the US Gulf of Mexico to Australia.

The development of such flexible systems, as used so successfully in the offshore oil business, could unlock a new breed of marine-based gas development projects. The demand for more gas means accessing remote or stranded offshore deposits and exporting resources using LNG technology is becoming ever more critical. As the race to build the world’s first offshore LNG plant accelerates, so too will the rate of innovation, as suppliers and engineers seek new solutions to new challenges.

One of the key components in the realisation of offshore transfer systems for LNG is the large bore Composite Cryogenic Hose. The robust and yet flexible design makes it suitable for LNG transfer in marine environments, and in March 2008 the company acquired the exclusive rights to commercialise and market the patented Composite Cryogenic LNG transfer hose.

This hose is the result of an extensive ten-year research and development programme executed by the patent holder in collaboration with the British companies BPP-TECH and Dantec. This programme has been recognised for its important contribution towards future developments in the LNG market.

“The LNG market is facing challenges not unlike those that we faced at the beginning of offshore oil and gas production,” commented Bluewater’s president, Hugo Heerema. “I am convinced that this Composite Cryogenic Hose can contribute positively to the development of LNG projects.”

The hose is Lloyd’s type-approved for offshore marine application and is presently available in eight-inch and 16-inch diameters, with a hose length of 25 metres. Designed for offshore LNG transfer, the hose enables FPSO to carrier, sideby- side or stern-to-bow configurations, using the proven tandem transfer techniques commonly used in oil offloading.

In late April, Bluewater was pleased to announce that the type approval programme of the 16-inch Composite Cryogenic Hose was completed successfully, following the type approval of the eight-inch hose, which had already been announced.

As a result of the type approval test programme the 16-inch hose will have a certified working pressure of 20 barg. Hugo comments: “We are excited about the attention the hose has received so far, in particular from the major oil companies. In the near future we will be able to provide the industry with efficient and robust total solutions including the hose technology.”

Concluding, Hugo says: “Our goal is to remain the technology leader. The unique combination of our enormous operational experience, our technology track record and our commitment to innovate will remain our distinguishing factor.”

Bluewater Energy Services B.V.

Products: Tanker-based production systems