Chinese shipbuilder delivers MODEC’s new giant FPSO destined for Brazilian waters

Dalian Shipbuilding (DSIC), part of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), has delivered a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel bound for an Equinor-operated field off Brazil.

FPSO Bacalhau; Source: Dalian Shipbuilding

Back in June 2021, Equinor made the final investment decision (FID) for the $8 billion worth Bacalhau project. A few days later, MODEC officially confirmed a contract award with Equinor to deliver the engineering, procurement, construction, and installation of the FPSO Bacalhau. The official contract was based on a sales and purchase agreement (SPA) for the FPSO which was signed between Equinor and MODEC in January 2020.

As explained when the first steel for the FPSO was cut by Chinese shipyard BOMESC, the vessel would mark the first application of MODEC’s M350 Hull, a next-generation newbuild hull for FPSOs, full double-hull design. It has been developed to accommodate larger topside and larger storage capacity than conventional VLCC tankers, with a longer design service life. According to MODEC, this vessel will be one of the largest ever delivered to Brazil.

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In a recent update, Dalian Shipbuilding confirmed that the FPSO Bacalhau was officially delivered on 26 May 2023, as the seventh new FPSO built by the Chinese player. According to Dalian, this FPSO is the world’s first ultra-large offshore engineering project designed using the latest specifications of Det Norske Veritas (DNV), which can meet the special marine environmental conditions in Brazil, West Africa, Australia, and other regions.

Furthermore, the vessel is suitable for oil and gas development operations in many sea areas around the world and reduces the owner’s operating costs. The FPSO is 364 metres long, 64 metres wide, and 33 metres deep, with a designed draft of 22.65 metres, a displacement of more than 460,000 tons, and a deck area of 17,400 square metres, which is equivalent to three standard football fields.

“All parties cooperated closely and in the spirit of ‘one team, one goal’ jointly overcame the impact of manpower and supply chain, etc. and finally achieved towing. All parties made great efforts, and wrote a new chapter of sincere cooperation,” highlighted Dalian Shipbuilding.

With a production capacity of 220,000 barrels per day, which is equivalent to a land oil and gas processing plant covering an area of 10 square kilometres, the FPSO Bacalhau’s weight of the upper module of oil and gas treatment reaches 50,000 tons. The entire vessel has as many as 34,000 pipes, weighing about 4,000 tons, and the total length of cables is about 800,000 meters, which is equivalent to the straight-line distance from Dalian to Shanghai.

Moreover, the FPSO only needs a low level of maintenance and meets the requirement of no docking for 30 years. There are 22 cargo oil tanks, with a full-load oil storage capacity of 2 million barrels. The vessel will be deployed at the Bacalhau field, which is situated across two licenses, BM-S-8 and Norte de Carcará, in the pre-salt region of the Santos Basin in water depths of 2,050 metres, approximately 185 kilometres off the coast of Ilhabela, São Paulo, Brazil.

FPSO Bacalhau; Source: Dalian Shipbuilding

The Bacalhau development, which will consist of 19 subsea wells tied back to the FPSO, has recoverable reserves of more than two billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), including the Bacalhau North area. The production start-up is anticipated in 2024.