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Analysis: Floating Production System Activity on Rise in GOM

Of the 216 projects being planned worldwide that potentially could require floating production systems, an estimated 10% are likely to be located in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), according to an analysis conducted by Washington, DC-based International Maritime Associates Inc. (IMA).

Jim McCaul, founder of the consulting firm, estimates that there are currently 46 floating production systems operating in the GOM, and that an additional 21 units are being planned for the Gulf over the next five to seven years. Each of the 21 projects "are probably good candidates for stand-alone floating systems," he noted.

"The growth in [the] number of planned projects reflects the solid fundamentals underlying the floating production sector," McCaul noted. "There's no question that the region has become more active. There was a hiatus following the Macondo well blowout. [But] everything looks pretty good at this point."

Eight more units already are on order for delivery to the GOM over the next year or two, according to McCaul. Only one floating production system was delivered last year for the Gulf -- to Houston-based LLOG Exploration, he said.

Globally there are now 257 floating production systems operating worldwide, up 30% from five years years ago, according to the IMA analysis.

Floating production systems include floating production, storage and off-loading units (FPSO); semi-submersibles; tension leg platforms; spar platforms, floating LNG units; floating storage and regasification units; and floating storage and offtake systems.

FPSO units account for 62% of all the existing floating production systems worldwide, with the other types of units making up the balance, the IMA analysis said.

Just this week, Excelerate Energy LP said it is moving forward with the development of the first floating liquefaction facility in the country utilizing its Floating Liquefaction Storage Offloading (FLSO) vessel technology. The Lavaca Bay liquefied natural gas (LNG) project will be located in Port Lavaca, situated between Galveston and Corpus Christi on the Texas Gulf Coast, and will be designed to export LNG to markets worldwide by 2017 (see related story).

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