Numerous types of offshore facilities — from platforms to floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessels, pipelines, and subsea infrastructure — keep the flow of energy solutions moving safely and effectively around the world. However, equipment ages, new technologies are developed, and production needs and regulations change over time. In all these cases, offshore facilities may require additional modifications, known as brownfields, to ensure they function in new and revised capacities longer, safer, more efficiently. These brownfield modifications make up an important part of enhancing offshore business operations.
Many considerations are required to help keep brownfield modifications on time, on budget, and effective. Depending on the type of brownfield project, engineers may need to first compare existing structures to as-built specifications. If an aspect of the infrastructure is out-of-specification, it may require correction before further planning can continue. Additionally, engineers may need to re-evaluate production timelines and profiles of a field or group of fields to ensure the current infrastructure will last through the field’s estimated lifetime. In some cases, a field may prove to be more productive than originally anticipated, and brownfield engineers come to the project already knowing the well needs to be extended.
At that point, they will likely analyze how required technology additions will physically and procedurally integrate into the existing infrastructure and make several cost-benefit analyses. The additions of newer technologies may very well make platforms and FPSOs more effective or extend their life, but the cost and level of disruption to integrate them must be considered. A thorough plan must be created in tandem with proper project, construction, and compliance management to minimize the effects of any necessary production shutdowns. In the end, when planned and implemented properly, the enhanced assets provide long-term value to offshore companies.