Photo: Terra Nova FPSO; Source: Suncor

Canadian FPSO on track to return to home waters before year-end

Canadian energy company Suncor has revealed that the Terra Nova life extension project is making progress with expectations for the subsea campaign to be completed by the end of this month and the FPSO to come back to Canada before the end of the year.

Following an agreement in principle for a restructuring of the project ownership to provide funding for the Terra Nova life extension, the project was sanctioned in September 2021. Suncor is the operator and its partners are Cenovus and Murphy Oil.

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The Terra Nova field is located offshore approximately 350 kilometres southeast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Production from the field began in 2002, using the Terra Nova FPSO, which has the capacity to store nearly a million barrels of oil. The Asset Life Extension (ALE) Project is expected to extend production life by approximately 10 years, providing an additional 70 million barrels of resource for the partnership.

Following maintenance work in late 2021, the FPSO in December 2021 sailed away from the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador to Ferrol, Spain where it has been for eight months.

According to this week’s update from Suncor, the external hull work is done and the FPSO has been moved from the shipyard’s drydock to the quayside to complete the remaining work. Now, the focus is on “fabric maintenance,” such as rust removal, painting, new insulation and new heat tracing.

Meanwhile, back home off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador, crews are busy upgrading equipment on the sea floor.

“The biggest component of the ALE project is the work being done to the ship in Spain, but we also have divers working underwater 350 kilometres offshore of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Kirk Goobie, GM Operations, Life Extension Project.

Tucked away in saturation chambers that maintain air pressure that coincides with 100 metres below the ocean’s surface, divers on the dive support vessel (DSV), the Seven Falcon, wait until their next six-hour shift.

Each day, a trio of divers exit their pressurized chambers, where they are constantly monitored by a support team that includes medical staff, and climb into another chamber, called a diving bell, that lowers them to the ocean floor. Two divers exit the diving bell and swim to the equipment to do maintenance work and complex tasks on the equipment that attaches to the FPSO from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. One diver remains in the diving bell as an emergency backup.

Suncor says that one of the largest replacement tasks taking place under the sea is upgrading the nine mooring legs that anchor the ship to the underwater drilling system. Since the subsea work began in April, two million kilograms of mooring chain have been replaced with a new chain that weighs about 450 kilograms per metre.

Since April, two million kilograms of mooring chain have been replaced as part of the Terra Nova asset life extension project. Source: Suncor

The subsea work is expected to be complete by mid-August. The Terra Nova FPSO and the crew are expected back in home waters by the end of 2022 when the FPSO is scheduled to be back in production.

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