SWS delivers latest Fast4Ward FPSO hull, cuts first steel for next unit

Chinese yard Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding (SWS) has reached two milestones in building the hulls and living quarters of two floating production, storage and offloading vessels based on SBM Offshore’s Fast4Ward concept.

Dutch floater specialist SBM is building up momentum to advance talks with SWS and China Merchants Heavy Industry for potential awards of two more Fast4Ward FPSOs, showing its confidence in continuing demand for its floaters, as the strong recovery in oil prices gives another fillip to field developments in Guyana, Brazil, Suriname and elsewhere.

On Tuesday, SWS in Shanghai delivered the fourth generic Fast4Ward multi-purpose floater (MPF 4) hull to SBM and the unit is ready for sailaway soon to Singapore’s Sembcorp Marine for topsides integration.

Based on SBM’s proprietary generic hull design, the MPF 4 has been upgraded in terms of design and performance in response to the operational requirements of target waters in Brazil, according to sources. Upstream understands this new Fast4Ward FPSO will be deployed at Petrobras’ Mero field, becoming the the fourth such unit at this Brazilian field, although this has not been confirmed.

The basic Fast4Ward solution is an FPSO with a storage capacity of up to 2.3 million barrels of crude oil, SWS earlier said. The Mero-4 FPSO features topsides modules with processing capacity of 180,000 barrels per day of oil and 12 million cubic metres per day of gas.

The unit will be able to inject 250,000 bpd of water and will be chartered for a period of 22.5 years, entering operations for Petrobras in 2025.

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Meanwhile, SWS has cut first steel for SBM’s next Fast4Ward FPSO, described internally as multipurpose floater 5 (MPF 5). This vessel is being built on a speculative basis but is likely destined for the ExxonMobil-operated Stabroek block offshore Guyana.

SWS said that the keel laying for the fifth unit will be performed later this year.

The first such vessel — MPF 1 — is the FPSO Liza Unity, which was delivered in late 2019 and is in operation at ExxonMobil’s Liza field on the prolific Stabroek block.

The second MPF is the FPSO Prosperity, which arrived at Sembmarine in late 2021 for topsides integration. The third unit was completed in January last year and is now in Singapore for topsides integration.

The generic MPF is equipped with a spread point-mooring system that can enable the FPSO in a wide range of sea conditions from West Africa to South America.

The living quarters are 52 metres high, 60 metres long and 15 metres wide with a total steel weight of 2800 tonnes — considered to be one of the largest ever built in China.