Without a doubt, accessing oil reservoirs in the depths of the ocean is a challenge. It takes a feat of engineering – in the form of a very large ship – to extract the reserves buried under the ocean floor. That ship is known as a floating production storage and offloading vessel, or FPSO for short.
Roughly the size of three American football fields, FPSOs are really floating factories, able to produce roughly 100,000 barrels of oil a day. Successfully extracting that amount of oil from underwater reservoirs as much as 12,000 feet deep requires expert precision to fit each piece of machinery together.
One location where an FPSO will be especially useful is in Guyana, a South American nation bordered by Venezuela, Suriname and Brazil. That small country appears to have a large reservoir off its shore, which could yield as much as 1.4 billion barrels of oil mixed with natural gas, according to some estimates. With the help of an FPSO, first oil produced from Guyana’s Liza field is likely to occur by 2020.
To understand the technology and complex infrastructure of an FPSO at work above and below sea level, take a look at the graphic below.
Header image: The Kizomba C FPSO, which currently operates offshore Angola. ExxonMobil plans to deploy a similar vessel at its Liza field, offshore Guyana.
Global Data, Q1 2017 Global FPSO Industry Outlook, April 2017