Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessels or FPSOs, are offshore production facilities that house both processing equipment and storage for produced hydrocarbons. The basic design of most FPSOs encompasses a ship-shaped vessel with processing equipment or topsides aboard the vessel’s deck and hydrocarbon storage below in the double hull. After processing, an FPSO stores oil or gas before offloading periodically to shuttle tankers or transmitting processed petroleum via pipelines.

The processing equipment aboard the FPSO is similar to what would be found atop a production platform. Usually built-in modules, FPSO production equipment can consist of water separation, gas treatment, oil processing, water injection and gas compression among others. Hydrocarbons are then transferred to the vessel’s double-hull for storage.

Crude oil that is stored onboard is frequently transferred to shuttle tankers or ocean barges going ashore, via a loading hose. Loading oil from the stern of the FPSO to the bow of the shuttle tanker is known as tandem loading. While gas is many times transferred to shore via pipeline or re-injected into the field to boost production.

A FPSO Marine Industry's Unplanned Downtime Is Costly

When an equipment in the manufacturing line fails, production is down. It may take days or even weeks for repair and replacement to be completed. Workflows are interrupted, there is a loss in output capacity and revenue.

Only 2% of the shipping industry has fully adopted condition-based monitoring despite the significant benefits of implementing it.

General Electric Marine Solutions President and Chief Executive, Tim Schweikert

A drillship typically loses USD $12 million during an unplanned downtime.

Preventive Maintenance Is Important

Systems breakdown due to a number or combination of factors, rarely just one. This results in devestating loss of equipment and life in the Marine Industry. 

Lacking or irregular maintenance procedures also increase the likelihood of equipment failure or human error. Combine this with inconsistent processing situations, the result can be costly with unplanned downtime.

Unplanned downtime negatively affect production capacity and increase operating expenses. The damaged equipment must be inspected properly and repaired fast before beginning operation again.

Preventive maintenance increases the reliability of equipment which is critical to achieve long-term profitable operations and tackle rising materials costs. This entails having detailed site-specific maintenance schedules, procedures, and training.

Maintenance procedures should include five phases:

  1. Initial Survey of Process

  2. On-Site Study

  3. Development of Schedule and Training

  4. Implementation of the Maintenance Plan, and

  5. Follow-Up to Determine Success Rate. 

Heat Exchangers in the Marine Industry

Heat Exchangers, separators, scrubbers, compressors, and other equipment are critical for the processing plant to operate properly. 

The hydrocarbon stream received at the first production separator is a mixed stream comprising of oil, water, and gas. This mixed stream is processed by separating the oil, water, and gas from each other. 

Insufficient cooling of the gas stream reduces the compressor efficiency, while insufficient heating results in lesser quantities of gas bubbling out in the three phase separators. Also, there is lesser condensate extraction from scrubber units and during the upstream of the compressor units.

Minimise Tube Failures

Three main areas for improvement to minimise future in-service tube failures are: 

  • Tube Testing 

  • Re-Tubing Strategy During Turnarounds

  • Design Improvements in Heat Exchangers

For the first point of tube inspection, we recommend using a suitable tube inspection device. This device needs to have the ability and accuracy to detect the common flaws found in the Heat Exchangers. 

Common Problems

  • ​​Process Corrosion

  • Stress-Corrosion Cracking (SCC) of Tubes

  • Steam or Condensate Corrosion

  • Process Fouling

Heat Exchangers to Inspect with APRIS

  • Air Cooled Condenser

  • Auxiliary Boiler

  • Cooler

  • Cooling Unit

  • Filtration Unit

  • Fire Tube Boiler

  • Reboiler

  • Water Tube boiler

Tube Inspection with APRIS

Technologies for inspecting Heat Exchanger tubes are constantly changing and improving rapidly. With increased sophistication and complexity of today’s Non-Destructive Examination (NDE) techniques, the operator’s skill level is becoming more vital. 

To correctly identify the flaws and tube failures, a reliable technology and technician is needed.

APRIS is a smart tube inspection device that doesn’t compromise the ease-of-use with higher complexity and sophistication. 

A typical tube inspection tool would require a user to have years of experience. But with APRIS, any technician can accurately find flaws with little training.  

Case Study

apris tube inspection equipment

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