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Exploring the growth of the FPSO industry



Three years ago it seemed that the FPSO market was dead in the water. With a downturn in oil projects from 2014, the need for new floating production, storage and offloading vessels stalled and there were no new orders made for two years.

However, the rise in oil prices has launched new explorations and the numerous economical and efficiency benefits of floating production, storage and offloading vessels are proving more important to operators than ever.

And as investment grows, more FPSO jobs at every stage, from design to operations, are being created around the world.

With 33 orders expected between 2019 and 2021, the growing FPSO market is likely to lead to many new global jobs
(Image via Shell)

Six new FPSOs were ordered from global shipbuilders in 2017. Last year a further 11 orders were made, and the momentum shows no signs of slowing. The latest reports from Rystad Energy, an independent energy research and business intelligence firm, claim that 33 FPSO orders are expected between 2019 and 2021.

Of these, 16 are on order or under construction for delivery just this year.

The firm credit the growth to “higher oil prices, technological advancements and lower costs.”

“The cost-cutting efforts implemented during the downturn are a major contributor to the favorable economics of most of these projects...The pipeline of projects indicates that FPSO awards are set for a strong comeback, driven in particular by South America.”

The most recent reports show that the FPSO market is expected to grow, with companies like SBM Offshore and MISC Berhad leading the industry
(Image via Odebrecht Oil and Gas)

Rystad are not alone in their belief of the ongoing growth of the FPSO market. A separate report conducted by Wood and Offshore magazine also highlighted various reasons for the turnaround:

“Increased oil prices, new design concepts, fabrication and integration innovations at global shipyards, creative financing options, and industry partnerships are all factors that are contributing to this projected upswing in activity. The momentum has already begun, with newly sanctioned projects on the rise. Cyclical and structural market changes are finally coming together to move major projects forward.”

 33 vessel orders represents a significant increase for the global market. As of the end of 2018 there were 183 FPSO vessels operating worldwide, with the newbuild FPSO market valued at $18 billion. On top of that is a lucrative market for converted FPSOs - older single-hulled vessels that have been refurbished and redeployed.

A study by Global Market Insights, Inc. published in January 2019 predicts that the FPSO market will surpass USD $30 billion by 2025.

The report states:

“Global market is set to witness vigorous growth on account of shifting trends toward offshore exploration & production driven by depleting onshore oil & gas reserves. Development challenges including excessive costs, material transportation, environmental conditions and decommissioning associated with fixed infrastructures will further shift the industry focus toward the utilization of these vessels as an alternative. Furthermore, advancement in subsea technologies along with growing focus toward fast-track floating solutions will continue to stimulate the industry growth.”

As the global search for new sources of oil and gas spreads to new areas, operations will shift offshore to deeper waters, smaller fields and more difficult locations. With companies attempting to maximise their revenue in these areas, more attention will be turning to the benefits of FPSOs.

The numerous benefits of FPSOs, with the newest technologies and lower construction costs means they're likely to become more relied upon by oil & gas companies
(Image via Bluewater)

What are the benefits of FPSOs?

With the growth in deepwater offshore oil & gas operations, the benefits of floating production, storage and offloading vessels are increasingly vital for the industry.

Through their ability to act as a full offshore production and storage facility, FPSOs give operators the freedom and versatility to explore remote areas and extract at a significantly cheaper cost.

The benefits include:

The ability to get FPSOs deployed and operating in a field much faster than building permanent structures means companies will recoup their expenditure much sooner

(Image via MODEC)

Faster deployment times

From the initial discovery, an FPSO can be rolled out and begin operating in a field in under a year. Compare this with permanent facilities which can take significantly longer - a jack-up rig could be 2-3 years to build and a semi-submersible rig can take as long as 3-4 years.

Once the field is depleted, an FPSO can be easily moved to another location. Companies investing FPSOs there see a much faster return with less need for further investment on similar, nearby fields. It also makes them much better suited to operate in smaller fields that can be depleted in a shorter time, where the costs of constructing permanent pipelines and facilities are less economically viable.

Though initial construction costs are high, FPSOs are considerably cheaper in the long run than permanent structures
(Image via wikimedia)

Lower costs

FPSOs can often have a very high initial cost due to the complexity of their make-up. Exxon’s Kizomba A, for example, was one of the most expensive FPSOs to construct, at a cost of over $800 million. A traditional offshore platform can cost up to $650 million.

However, permanent structures lead to high expenditures such as maintenance and decommissioning that do not apply to FPSOs. Facilities can be refitted at regular intervals at a much lower cost, plus the ability to move to new operations mean an FPSO can outlast a fixed platform by decades.

The flexibility of FPSOs mean they can be used to drill in areas that were previously unviable through economics or environmental elements
(Image via Houlder Ltd)


In the modern offshore industry, drilling in deeper waters is increasingly necessary. FPSOs are easier to position in ultra-deep water plays such as the Gulf of Mexico or the Arctic, where permanent structures would require either the logistically difficult installation of subsurface pipelines, or the expensive use of shuttle tanker exports.

Those same regions present other issues. Areas such as the Gulf or the South China Sea can be troubled by regular hurricanes or cyclones, while the Arctic presents dangers in the form of icebergs. Permanent structures have to be reinforced and regularly maintained to ensure they can withstand these environmental conditions, while an FPSO can simply be moved away until the danger has passed.

This opens up many previously nonviable fields to producers.

Once a well or field is depleted, FPSOs can be easily redeployed to new areas, or their topsides reused on other vessels
(Image via Channol)


Not all FPSOs are newly built for purpose - many are converted from other vessels. BP’s Castellon was the first FPSO, but began life as an oil tanker before being refurbished with production and offloading facilities. The ability to recycle assets allows for cheaper construction costs.

The ability for FPSOs to be moved to different fields or refurbished to suit other needs also means that companies operating them have greater flexibility over their assets. A producer can very easily lease out of use FPSOs to others in the region, in a way that they can’t with a fixed asset. This allows them to react to market forces and recycle their assets much quicker if needed.

Who are the key players in the FPSO market?

SBM Offshore are one of the first companies to operate FPSOs and are developing new technologies for faster deployment and lower construction costs

SBM Offshore

Dutch-based SBM Offshore own and operate the world’s largest fleet of FPSOs, having been involved in these operations since 1976.

The company’s most recent concept is the “Fast4Ward” FPSO, which uses a standard, multi-purpose newbuild hull supporting similarly standardised topsides which they claim can accelerate delivery of the vessels by up to one year, improve construction efficiency and cut typical project costs by over $500 million.

The first of this Fast4Ward design began construction at the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding and Offshore (SWS) shipyard in China at the beginning of the year. Construction of a second hull has already been contracted with the shipyard.

Another vessel under construction is the FPSO Liza Destiny at the Keppel Shipyard in Singapore. This is said to be SBM Offshore’s largest capacity FPSO ever and is due to sail away this summer for installation at Exxon’s Liza field offshore Guyana later in the year.

They’re also midway through construction of the Johan Castberg FPSO turret mooring system in Dubai, due to be delivered in early 2020.

MISC Berhad have five currently operating FPSOs and are looking to invest in more

MISC Berhad

Based in Kuala Lumpur, MISC Berhad have a diverse fleet of over 120 vessels, including five currently operating FPSOs. They’re a leading player in providing offshore solutions in the ASEAN region.

In April last year, the company revealed that they were allocating $500 million to undertake new projects and tenders for FPSOs, with President and CEO Yee Yang Chien saying:

“We are seeing vast opportunities in tandem with the recovery in crude oil prices this year. All the future development for oil upstream production is mostly deep water, which requires FPSO and shuttle tankers.”

 At the time of writing MISC are thought to be the frontrunners for an FPSO tender for Petronas Carigali’s Limbayong development. This will require an FPSO with a nameplate storage capacity of 600,000 barrels of crude and water injection of 75,000 bpd. Fabrication and engineering work is to be carried out in Malaysia.

Petrobras are one of the biggest operators, with 12 FPSOs operating off the coast of Brazil


Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. - commonly known as Petrobras - are a partially state owned Brazilian firm with a fleet of 12 FPSOs, most of which operate offshore Brazil.

Earlier this year Petrobras’ new president, Roberto Castello Branco, announced the company’s upcoming plans for exploration and production of deepwater oil fields. In his inauguration speech he revealed an intention to put a further 13 FPSOs in production by 2023. So far eight of these have already been ordered.

While some of these may be operated by other firms for Petrobras’s fields, Hugo Repsold, Director of Production & Technology Development has emphasised the company’s plans to continue contracting its own vessels for operations starting in 2023.

With 15 FPSOs currently operating and 3 under construction, MODEC are the largest operator in the ASEAN region


Mitsui Ocean Development & Engineering Company Inc. (MODEC) is a Tokyo based global supplier and operator of offshore floating platforms. Currently they operate 15 FPSOs worldwide, with another 3 units under construction.

The Eni Mexico Area 1 FPSO is due to be deployed 10km off the coast of Mexico at a water depth of approximately 32 meters, with first production planned for 2021. The vessel will be capable of processing 90,000 barrels of crude oil per day, 75 million cubic feet of gas per day, 120,000 barrels of water injection per day and have a storage capacity of 900,000 barrels of crude oil.

MODEC is responsible for the engineering, procurement, construction, mobilisation, installation and operation of the FPSO and will own and provide operations and maintenance services for an initial 15 year period with the option of one-year extensions for a further 5 years. Construction has been subcontracted to the Cosco Shipping Heavy Industry shipyard in China.

The FPSO Guanabara MV31 will be deployed at the Petrobras operated Mero field, 180km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro at a water depth of 2,100 metres. MODEC is responsible for the engineering, procurement, construction, mobilisation, installation and operation of the FPSO, including topsides processing equipment as well as hull and marine systems. It will be capable of processing 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day, 424 million standard cubic feet of gas per day, 225,000 barrels of water injection per day and have a storage capacity of 1,400,000 barrels of crude oil. First oil is planned for 2021.

The FPSO is being converted from the very large crude carrier (VLCC) Britanis - previously owned by Greek company Chandris. The topside is being constructed by Brazil’s offshore construction specialist Estaleiros do Brasil Ltda. at their shipyard in São José do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Finally the FPSO Carioca MV30 is being constructed for deployment at the Sépia field, 250 km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro at a water depth of 2,200 metres - also operated by Petrobras.

MODEC is once again responsible for the engineering, procurement, construction, mobilisation, installation and operation of the FPSO including topsides processing equipment, hull and marine systems.

The FPSO will be capable of processing 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day, 212 million standard cubic feet of gas per day, 240,000 barrels of water injection per day and have a storage capacity of 1,400,000 barrels of crude oil. First oil is planned for 2021.

The topside will be constructed at the Keppel FELS Brasil shipyard in Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In 3 decades, FPSO specialists have completed 30 projects and 10 FSO projects

BW Offshore

Norwegian company BW Offshore specialise in the operation of FPSOs, with a current fleet of 15 vessels worldwide. In 30 years they have completed 30 FPSO projects.

Most recently they achieved first oil from the BW Adolo FPSO at the Tortue field. The vessel is a converted VLCC with a production capacity of 40,000 barrels of day of oil and a storage capacity of 1.35 million barrels.

They also achieved first oil from the BW Catcher at the Premier Oil-operated Catcher field offshore UK early last year. The FPSO was constructed at the Keppel yard in Singapore, and can process up to 60,000 barrels per day with a storage capacity of 650,000 barrels.

In the company’s most recent investor presentation they revealed a redeployment strategy of vessels to unlock value in fields deemed uncommercial by the traditional approach

Bumi Armada have built up a large fleet of FPSOs over the years, with redeployments offering each one a longer lifespan

Bumi Armada Berhad

Based in Kuala Lumpur, Bumi Armada Berhad is the fifth largest FPSO provider with a fleet of nine vessels, eight of which are currently in operation with one available for redeployment.

Currently the company is restructuring its finances and looking to secure a potential subsea contract in the Caspian Sea, as well as extending existing contracts. From there it is likely to be seeking new FPSO projects.

With the FPSO market growing, more orders are being made every day
(Image via Aveva)

What new projects are being planned?

With the FPSO market growing, led by a combination of key global players and smaller firms branching out into the floating production, storage and offloading industry, the potential for workers on FPSO construction and operations is vast. For the latest opportunities in this market, view Fircroft’s current list of vacancies.

With further exploration unlocking more potential opportunities, the list of upcoming projects is guaranteed to change rapidly. However these are some of the major FPSO projects around the world that are currently under construction and due to launch by 2030.


 Country Project Field  Operator   Award
 Cambodia Apsara Apsara  Kris Energy  2017 
 Indonesia MDA/MBH  MDA  Husky Oil  2017 
 Malaysia MTC Ledang FPSO  Ophir  Ophir Production  2017 
 Vietnam Ca Rong Do (OSX-1) Ca Rong  Repsol  2017 



Country Project Field  Operator  Award 
 Angola Kaombo Norte  Gengibre  Total  2014 
 Angola Kaombo Sul  Mostarda  Sonangol  2014 
 Congo Yombo replacement  Yombo  Perenco  2017 
 Nigeria Egina FPSO  Egina  Total  2013 


Country Project  Field  Operator  Award 
 Australia Ichthys FPSO  Ichthys  Inpex  2012 


Country Project  Field  Operator  Award 
 Norway Johan Castberg (Skrugard) Johan Castberg  Statoil  2017 
 United Kingdom Aoka Mizu (Lancaster)  Lancaster  Hurricane Exploration  2017 
 United Kingdom Penguins Redevelopment  Penguins  Shell  2018 

South America

Country Project  Field  Operator  Award 
 Brazil Cidade de Campos dos Goytacazes MV29 Tartaruga Verde (ex-Aruana) Petrobras  2010 
 Brazil Petrojarl 1 relocation (Atlanta) Atlanta  QGEP  2014 
 Brazil P-67  Lla (ex-Tupi)  Petrobras  2010 
 Brazil P-68  Berbigao  Petrobras  2010 
 Brazil P-69  Lula (ex-Tupi)  Petrobras  2010 
 Brazil P-70  Atapu (ex-Entorno de lara)  Petrobras  2010 
 Brazil P-71  Sururu  Petrobras  2017 
 Brazil P-74 Buzios (Franco)  Petrobras  2012 
 Brazil P-75  Buzios (Franco)  Petrobras  2012 
 Brazil P-76 Buzios (Franco)  Petrobras  2010 
 Brazil P-77  Buzios (Franco)  Petrobras  2012 
 Brazil Carioca MV30  Sepia  Petrobras  2017 
 Brazil Libra Pilot (Mero)  Libra  Petrobras 2017 
 Guyana Liza  Liza  ExxonMobil  2017 

Fircroft has a range of global FPSO jobs across the entire industry

Secure your next role in the growing FPSO industry

With almost fifty years of experience in recruiting technical engineers throughout the global oil & gas industry, Fircroft are uniquely positioned to help you secure a new job in this sector. We’re recruiting for the world’s biggest FPSO projects, with positions across every aspect from design and construction to operation and maintenance.

View all our current FPSO jobs in locations around the world. Or register with us for free to hear about all the latest opportunities as they arrive.

Recent Comments
Experienced in Oil&Gas construction as E&I supervision,inspection,installation,offshore,onshore,FPSO,shipbuilding,Refinery,E-House
Antonius Yulianto, 21 February 2019
Current Designation: Principal Brownfield Rejuvenation Engineering Manager / Subject Matter Expert. ( 24 years extensive onsite and offsite experience ) Actively looking for the following positions: a) Project Engineering Manager | Lead Engineer b) QA/QC/Inspection & Assurance Manager | Lead Engineer c) Principal Engineer | Manager | Subject Matter Expert (SME) in Asset Integrity, Brownfield Rejuvenation, Facilities & Plant Engineering, Mechanical Engineering d) Principal | Lead | Senior Engineer ( Mechanical, Material, Corrosion, Welding ) e) Principal Engineer / SME (Asset Integrity and Reliability Engineering) f) Principal Engineer / SME ( Fitness For Service FFS / Fracture Mechanics ) g) Principal Metallurgist h) Field Engineering Advisor i) OIM / Field Operation Manager j) Principal SURF Engineer
Ros Hisham Hassan, 23 February 2019
Good and exhaustive information. Congratulations for this article. Gilbert
Gilbert Buonomo, 25 February 2019
Hi , I understand that you are recruiting various positions for FPSO. My 12+ years of experience in the field of construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance make me an excellent candidate. My current position is E&I suoervisor (FPSO) and actively looking for new assignment. I have a strong background in Electrical, Instrumentation and telecom and enjoy working in a team environment. I am confident that my skills and experience will meet the needs of your clients.
Vinodkumar Parmar, 28 February 2019
Mechanical Engineer & having 24+ years of Multi discipline experience in Oil & Gas industry in all aspects of Engineering, Construction, Pre-commissioning & Commissioning of process facilities in Offshore and Onshore facilities, FPSO and wellhead platforms. Leadership with key specializations in Corporate Strategy which includes Construction, Commissioning of Oil & Gas facilities, My strong experience in various leadership positions in Green & Brown filed developments in the area of upstream offshore and on shore facilities which includes budgeting, cost control, Safety, Environmental, Financial and Operational objectives. KEY Expertise: • Commissioning of Oil / Gas plant, subsea pipeline & onshore oil terminals, FPSO and MOPUS. • Up gradation & expansion of Oil / Gas facilities • Construction and Interface. • Maintenance & Operations – Offshore & onshore facilities • FAT inspection & testing • Vendor contract management( Global locations) from tendering to delivery, commissioning & start-up • Subsea pipe line commissioning and startup. • Topside modification & hook up and commissioning. • Up gradation & expansion of Oil / Gas facilities at offshore & onshore and commissioning.
Arul Viswanathan, 04 March 2019
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