Offshore Facilities

Welcome to the Offshore Facilities feature in this month’s JPT.  It was my pleasure to go through 169 papers submitted to SPE in this field over the past year and select three for inclusion in this issue as well as three for additional reading. I considered making my selections along a theme, but offshore facilities is a broad category spanning vast engineering interests and challenges. The papers I chose are those I enjoyed reading. The result is a rather eclectic mix.

The first paper provides a high-level look at the design and construction of the Prelude floating liquefied-natural-gas (FLNG) facilities. This is a world-class gasfield-development project taking on significant technical challenges, and the paper touches on technology selection and development, safety-design aspects, and construction activities. The intent of the developer is for Prelude to be the first of many FLNG projects, using a “design one, build many” strategy to leverage learnings and reduce subsequent development time and cost.

The next paper describes the design, construction, and installation of a spar in the Gulf of Mexico, including bulk storage tanks for produced oil, methanol, and diesel and independent tanks for production and subsea chemicals. The design and regulatory requirements are discussed, and lessons learned and recommendations for future projects are supplied.

The final paper discusses the development and testing of an active acoustic automatic leak-detection sonar. The technology makes use of the different acoustic impedance of hydrocarbons compared with the surrounding sea­water to detect with a sonar head the partial reflection of the transmitted signal by this interface. The paper describes field trials of the technology in the Gulf of Mexico using a substitute target to simulate an oil release and nitrogen to simulate natural gas.

I hope you enjoy reading these papers as much as I did.

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 172150 The Use of Multirotor Remotely Operated Aerial Vehicles as a Method of Closely Visually Inspecting Live and Difficult-To-Access Assets on Offshore Platforms by Malcolm Connolly, Cyberhawk Innovations

OTC 25676 Implementing Constructability in Brownfield Projects: A Case Studyby Amir G. Salem, SBM Offshore, et al.

OTC 25685 The Risk of Cryogenic-Liquid Release Could Have Been a Show Stopper for the Floating Liquefied-Natural-Gas Market: How Did the Industry Respond? by R. Wade


Mark S. Elkins, SPE, is process lead for ConocoPhillips’ Alaska liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) project. He holds a BS degree in chemical engineering from Louisiana State University. Elkins has worked for 36 years in the oil and gas industry in various process-engineering roles. He worked for Arco for 20 years, supporting domestic and international projects and operations both offshore and onshore. For the past 16 years, Elkins has worked for ConocoPhillips, primarily on gasfield-development projects. He served as the company representative in the engineering contractor shop for ConocoPhillips’ FLNG technology-development project from 2011 to 2013.  Elkins is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee.

Offshore Facilities

Mark S. Elkins, SPE, Process Lead, ConocoPhillips

20 January 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 2