Seatrium starts a semi-submersible floating production unit (FPU)

Singapore’s Seatrium, previously known as Sembcorp Marine, has cheered the first steel fabrication milestone for the construction of a new semi-submersible floating production unit (FPU) destined for Shell’s recently sanctioned deepwater development in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

The start of the construction phase comes weeks after Seatrium confirmed a contract for the construction and integration of the hull, topsides, and living quarters of the Sparta FPU – featuring a single topside module supported by a four-column semi-submersible floating hull – and follows the letter of intent from August 28, 2023. The final investment decision for the project was taken in December 2023.

The FPU will replicate about 95% of the Whale FPU’s hull and 85% of its topsides. Sparta will be Seatrium’s third semi-submersible FPU built for Shell. The two-level topside for Sparta will be integrated and lifted to the hull using Seatrium’s Goliath twin cranes capable of lifting up to 30,000 tones. This FPU is designed to produce 90,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d).

The Sparta project, previously known as North Platte, is a deepwater development in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, measuring 4,300 square feet (1,310 meters). Discovered in 2012 by Cobalt International Energy, the Sparta field is currently operated by Shell Offshore (51%) with Equinor Gulf of Mexico LLC (49%) as the oil major’s partner.

The development plan for the project covers eight production wells tied back to a semi-submersible FPU. With an estimated, discovered recoverable resource volume of 244 million boe and a designed capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day at peak, the Sparta FPU will feature all-electric compression equipment, allowing for significantly reduced emissions intensity from production.

“The Sparta FPU, a close replica of its predecessors the Shell Vito and Whale FPUs, will leverage operational synergies by replicating the safe and efficient on-ground commissioning before the single-lift integration method for the topsides. When completed, Sparta will be situated in the Garden Banks area of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and is expected to produce 90,000 boe/d. We are very much looking forward to the successful delivery of the Sparta FPU,” explained Seatrium.

Upon completion, the Sparta FPU will be situated in the Garden Banks area of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, approximately 275 kilometers (171 miles) off the coast of Louisiana. The project is slated to start production in 2028.

Seatrium won several deals in 2023. One of the more recent ones was secured with Offshore Frontier Solutions Pte Ltd, a MODEC Group company, for topside module fabrication work related to the FPSO Raia in Brazil.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding

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