Integrating Ilhabela

Claudio Paschoa

May 1, 2014

Brazilian correspondent Claudio Paschoa shares his insights after visiting SBM Offshore & Synergy’s Brasa yard in Niteroi to tour Petrobras’ latest FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela.

The first time I visited the Brasa shipyard, a joint venture between SBM Offshore and Synergy, in early 2013, construction had just begun on the topside modules for the Cidade de Ilhabela. The scope of work looked large even back then, and yet as I drove by on the Rio-Niteroi bridge a few times a month, I could clearly see the modules taking shape. In January 2014, when the converted VLCC hull arrived at the shipyard, and with most of the modules nearing completion, I knew it was time to pay another visit to the sprawling shipyard.

Upon the arrival of the FPSO hull to Brazil, Phillipe Levy, Country Director for SBM Offshore, commented, “The arrival of FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela to Brazil represents a newsworthy double milestone for SBM Offshore. Firstly, the success of SBM’s global project management of the hull conversion at the CXG shipyard in China. Secondly as joint venture partners with Synergy in Brasa shipyard, we are very proud to welcome her to the quayside for the final integration of 10 of her 18 modules, which were built here at Brasa in Niteroi, Rio.”

Developed in 2011, through a 50/50 partnership with Brazil’s Synergy group, the Brasa yard has risen from land in Niteroi that stood empty almost two years ago. “We aim to be seen as a yard that delivers on time. It’s the mark of SBM and we want to build on this reputation,” Levy said.

The Brasa shipyard project entailed the development of new fabrication yard facilities dedicated to complex FPSOs for the Brazilian deepwater market. The plan was for the 65,000sq m shipyard to have the capacity to assemble topside modules and integrate them with FPSO hulls. The added challenge was to build the yard while preserving the fragile ecological surroundings. The yard is situated on the Conceição Island next to the Port of Niteroi and within the environmentally sensitive Guanabara Bay. The location of the yard, which is near the entrance to the Port of Niteroi, is a heavily polluted area, dotted with ships ready for scrapping and abandoned fishing vessels. The shoreline is mostly made up of small shipyards, the port, warehouses and a fish market. SBM Offshore along with the Brasa shipyard have periodically led campaigns to remove trash from the water and coastal areas adjacent to their yard.

“Brasa shipyard was created by Synergy and SBM in order to simplify topside module integration for FPSOs, the unit currently being integrated at the yard, FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela, will be leased to Petrobras for production at a presalt field in the Santos Basin, Levy said. “A holding company named SNV was created, with its assets being the shipyard and the Pelicano 1 crane barge, with equal shares belonging to Synergy and SBM Offshore.”

With the Brasa yard, SNV managed to resolve three major bottlenecks at the same location. “These bottlenecks are: the shipyard construction site, heavy lift crane barge, and integration quayside,” Levy said. “Therefore allowing us to streamline production, while at the same time eliminating problems to secure suppliers and of attracting qualified workforce, by being located within a major city,” Levy said. The fact that SBM Offshore’s Brasa shipyard can boast almost 100% local content, in terms of workforce, by having the yard in country and by creating thousands of jobs, guaranteed SBM Offshore being well regarded by local and federal government and a preferred partner to Petrobras. This showcases SBM’s successful strategy in building a private yard in Brazil, which, allayed to its established reputation in FPSO construction and operation, gives the company a significant advantage when competing for contracts in Brazil.

The conversion project of a VLCC to a FPSO capable of producing 150,000 bo/d and with a storage capacity of 1.6MMbbl was done in China. The work included a special mooring system add-on, inport/outport platform and main deck renewal, reinforced tank, refitted accommodation and engine room reconditioning, along with hull blasting and coatings, which were effected at the CXG yard, also known as Guangzhou Dockyards. The vessel sailed 10,625nm (19,678 km) from China and arrived in Brazilian waters in December 2013.

“The relationship with the yard is developing well and CXG is now expanding their capabilities in the piping and the E&I scope of work. SBM is very happy with the conversion of the Ilhabela vessel,” says John Schubert, SBM Offshore Operations Director, who is based in Schiedam and is responsible for the overall project management of the Schiedam FPSO projects. “CXG is now continuing with a similar scope of work on our Cidade de Maricá & Cidade de Saquarema projects,” Schubert said.

Logistics for the project was daunting with equipment suppliers from all over the world. Blue Water Shipping, provided logistics for FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela materials and equipment to China and Brazil. The project involved Blue Water Shipping’s offices worldwide. In the past 18 months, the company handled over 1200 shipments for the project. The majority was from Europe to the yard in China, but also many shipments from the Far East and Europe to Brazil.

In terms of engineering, this project required the complete hull renewal, including the structural reinforcement to receive more than 23,000 tons of topsides, the spread mooring system, including 4x6 polyester mooring lines and specially designed chain stoppers and finally, the complete process facilities on deck, including power generation of over 110MW, oil and gas treatment, CO2 and H2S removal, water treatment and injections modules, along with all the redundant safety systems required for such a vessel. Once the module integration is completed the vessel will be installed on the Sapinhoá presalt field, spread moored at a water depth of 2140m.

“A spread mooring system was chosen for this FPSO because of its size and the extreme water depth. With this system, a group of mooring lines is distributed over the bow and stern of the vessel to anchors on the seafloor. The vessel is positioned in a fixed heading, which is determined by the sea and weather conditions. The symmetrical arrangement of anchors helps to keep the ship on its fixed heading location. The spread mooring system does not allow the vessel to weathervane (Rotate in the horizontal plane due to wind, waves or current),” said SBM Offshore Project Manager Martijn Kleijn, who accompanied the author on a visit to the FPSO.

The FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela will be linked to around 20 wells, with an estimated production of 150,000 bo/d and capability to compress 6MMcu. m/d of gas. The vessel is designed to last 25 years and the newbuild accommodation block is designed for a crew of 120 persons to live in comfort. The oil produced at Sapinhoá is high quality and medium density, graded at 27 ° API, along with associated CO2 and traces of H2S. The consortium that owns the Sapinhoá field, in BM-S-9 block, is operated by Petrobras (45%), in partnership with BG E&P Brasil (30%) and Repsol Sinopec Brasil (25%).

A panorama of topside modules construction underway at the Brasa shipyard.
Photo: Claudio Paschoa.

The FPSO will be owned and operated by a joint venture owned by SBM Offshore with other partners including Queiroz Galvão Óleo e Gás S.A. (QGOG). Once in operation FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela will be SBM Offshore’s largest FPSO. It is the company’s second vessel in the Generation 3 model, engineered to the specifications of the presalt plays offshore Brazil. The first is FPSO Cidade de Paraty, which achieved first oil in June 2013. The next pair of FPSOs Cidade de Maricá and Cidade de Saquarema also for offshore Brazil, will be copies of Cidade de Ilhabela and their modules will also be fabricated at the Brasa shipyard.

Topside Module Integration

Cidade de Ilhabela is the first FPSO to be integrated at Brasa’s quay number two. Three additional modules were constructed and delivered by EBSE, a Rio de Janeiro yard that SBM works closely with as part of its development of solid local content solutions. Therefore, a total of 13 modules were built in Brazil for FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela.

Chief Technology Director at SBM Offshore, Mike Wyllie says, “The 23,000 tons of topsides to be carried on Ilhabella is by far the largest we’ve ever designed and constructed and it is approaching the limits of what is practical on a converted tanker. We’ve run out of space to spread the topsides anymore, so now we can only build upwards. On some modules we are now up to four operating levels. We’re happy to keep pushing the limits of what you can do with tanker conversions because that’s what we do best and it’s where our core technology lies.”

The Brasa shipyard was a significant factor in helping secure the Cidade de Ilhabela contract and the subsequent double vessel, Cidade de Maricá and Cidade de Saquarema contract. “Petrobras gave us the awards because we have more capacity for local content,” said Levy, who sits on the Board of the Joint Venture in addition to his role as Brazil Country Director for SBM Offshore.

The Brazilian scope for the conversion of the vessels is managed in close cooperation with the Rio office of SBM Offshore and a dedicated site team is in place at Brasa yard made up of combined resources from SBM’s Schiedam and Rio offices. Project completion for Cidade de Ilhabela is scheduled for 2Q 2014.

“The arrival of FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela to Brazil represents a newsworthy double milestone for SBM Offshore. Firstly the success of SBM’s global project management of her conversion at the CXG yard in China. Secondly as joint venture partners with Synergy in Brasa shipyard, we are very proud to welcome her to the quayside for the final integration of ten of her 18 modules, which were built here at Brasa in Niteroi, Rio,” Levy said.

When asked about the safety systems aboard the new FPSO, Phillipe Levy was very direct, “Well, any FPSO is potentially explosive, so we take safety systems very seriously and we’ve also installed redundant systems to back them up. It would be too complicated and time consuming to talk about all these systems, but I believe it suffices to say that there has never been any major accident in any of our FPSOs and we intend to keep it that way.”

FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela’s topside modules await integration. Photo by Claudio Paschoa.

When visiting the FPSO, it was easy to get lost between the maze of pipes and valves, but it was also easy to see how the module connections are well organized and how safety is considered paramount even during construction. The modules, built at the main yard, across the bay from the fitting out quay, are picked up by the Pelicano 1 crane barge from the main yard, lifted to the appropriate height and then the crane barge crosses the little bay to where the FPSO is moored and delicately lowers the module onto its selected position on deck. This sounds straightforward enough, it is however, an extremely complex operation that actually begins before sunrise, with the movement of the module to the correct loading area, an operation which is done by massive rollers, this is followed by a safety check and the connection of the huge lifting chains from the crane to the module, and more safety checks before the module is raised. The whole operation to transport a module to the FPSO deck takes nearly a whole day and was being done every Tuesday and Thursday, weather permitting.

The Pelicano 1 crane barge, following a 21-month extensive upgrade and refurbishment program, was awarded an ABS Class certificate and has officially become the highest capacity crane barge in all of Latin American. It is a joint venture between SBM Offshore and Synergy who formed the company BSL Serviços, a Brazilian shipping company which specializes in heavy lifting. The major upgrades to the Pelicano 1 included the installation of state-of-the-art instruments providing it with enhanced loading capabilities for integrating modules onto FPSOs. To complete the final stages, the crane underwent overload tests (110% of the maximum capacity) to certify the crane’s safety and capacity. The tests were overseen by the crew and project team (engineers and heavy lift specialists) as well as representatives from Petrobras. ABS acted as Marine Warranty Surveyor and awarded certification of the crane barge liftinghooks for over-load with 2255MT.

The particular technical specifications of the Pelicano 1 (shallow draft, long outreach and massive lifting capacity) are a powerful combination, which SBM will employ to create value for complex projects all along the Brazilian coast. Referring to the integration of module TS-062 onto FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela, which took place in February 2014, Gustavo Adolfo, General Manager for Leased Production Units at Petrobras said: “This event is an important step ahead and please accept our congratulations to the team involved.” All modules have now been integrated to the FPSO, with the integration actually ahead of schedule, in part due to the fact that there was very little rain and almost no storms during the summer in Rio de Janeiro.

SBM has not given a date for the final delivery of the FPSO to Petrobras, and the technicians and engineers are now checking and testing all the module systems and other integrated systems along with mandatory IMO ship safety tests and ABS certification. In Brazil, SBM Offshore is currently involved in 10 major FPSO projects, boasting an uptime performance record across their Brazilian fleet with an uptime of over 99%.

Subsea systems

Although not directly related to the topside module integration, it is interesting to understand how some of the modules will be connected to the production and injection wells at the Sapinhoá field. Technip was awarded by Petrobras an ultra-deepwater contract for the supply of flexible pipes for the Sapinhoá Norte field, at a water depth of up to 2500m. The contracts cover the supply of flexible pipes for oil production, gas lift, and gas injection. It also includes related equipment for the presalt, to be installed on FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela. The equipment is designed to operate in severe conditions of H2S and CO2 as well as to withstand high internal pressures. The full contract foresees the supply of 12.5km of flexible pipes and 4.9km of dynamic jumpers systems to be installed in risers of FPSOs in the Lula Nordeste and Sapinhoa presalt fields. The gas injection top risers are designed for high internal pressure, using the Teta profile developed by Technip’s R&D team in its Flexi France plant in Le Trait, France. The gas injection top riser, together with the majority of the scope above, will be manufactured in Flexibras Açu, located on the north coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro. The remaining scope will be manufactured in Flexibras Vitória. Technip’s operating center in Rio de Janeiro will perform the engineering and project management.

FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela details:
Total Length - 344.9m,
Beam - 58m,
Height - 30.3m;
Gross Tonnage – 160,842
DWT - 265,243
Storage Capacity - 1.6MMbbls
Water depth - 2140m
Field - Sapinhoá
Lease Period - 20 years
Uptime record - N/A
Number of risers - 55 (up to 16 spare risers)
Date first oil – 2H 2014
Max. throughput - 150,000 bo/d
Gas injection  -  210 MMscfd
Gas export - 140 MMscfd
Water injection - 180,000 b/d

Four FPSOs in four years for Petrobras:
2013 Cidade de Paraty
2014 Cidade de Ilhabela
2015 Cidade de Maricá
2016 Cidade de Saquarema

Main highlights of Pelicano 1 upgrade program:
200MT+ of steel plates re newed in the vessel’s hull
Special Survey completed  hilst indry-dock
ABS Class certificate valid for next five years
Replacement of all wire ropes, including luffing tackle, lifting hooks and mooring winches
Certification and overhauling of all sheaves and replacement of all bearings in the mechanical components of the lifting apparatus
Installation of two azimuthing thrusters of c. 2500BHP (ea)
Replacement of all four diesel generators
Replacement of out-dated electrical cables and switch boards
Installation of state-of-the-art instruments to aid in the operation of the crane barge

In addition to quicker operations, greater maneuverability and flexibility, the installation of azimuthing thrusters has improved the crane making it safer and less polluting.