It looks like a ship, but technically it is not a ship. With no means of propulsion of its own, the FPSO Glen Lyon is a huge Floating Production, Storage and Offloading unit used for the production and processing of hydrocarbons, and for the storage of oil offshore.
The newly built Glen Lyon is 270 meters long, 52 meters wide and holds a tower on the bow that stretches 154 meters up into the air.
As a key part of BP’s multi-billion Quad 204 project, the Glen Lyon is re-developing the Schiehallion and Loyal fieldsin the North Sea region. The Schiehallion oilfield, located 175 kilometers west of the Shetland Islands, Scotland, was discovered in 1993 and began producing oil in 1998. Together, Schiehallion and Loyal have produced nearly 400 million barrels of oil. The Quad204 development aims to access the remaining estimated 450 million barrels available.
The FPSO Glen Lyon has replaced a similar vessel in the area that was decommissioned due to old age. Several years in the making, initial plans of the Glen Lyon were drawn up many years before construction began in 2013. It was built in the world’s largest shipbuilding yard of company Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan, South Korea and took over 2,000 workers 21 million work hours, or roughly four years, to complete.
After successful completion of sea trials to ensure the vessel was fit to travel, the FPSO Glen Lyon departed from Ulsan in December 2015 to Haugesund in the southwest of Norway. As the FPSO does not have an engine, it was towed by three anchor handling and towing vessels, travelling at an average speed of 6.4 knots. The convoy put in technical stops at Singapore, Port Louis in Mauritius, Walvis Bay in Namibia, and Las Palmas, Canary Islands, before reaching Norway in April 2016.
As the FPSO Glen Lyon travelled across the seas, it was home to 140-160 crew members who were there to work on the unit to further prepare it for production. During the tow, Panalpina was responsible for material management, husbandry, ship agency services and the emergency response plan, taking charge of a number of responsibilities including inward and outward port clearance, requisition of supplies, loading of stores and cargo, customs and immigration, crew assistance and changeovers, waste disposal and temporary storage, to name just a few. In Singapore, Panalpina even had to coordinate with the air traffic control authorities to make sure the Glen Lyon’s tower would not come in the way of low-flying aircraft.
After final tasks were carried out in Haugesund, the vessel completed its 15,600 nautical mile voyage and reached its permanent location in the Schiehallion field in June 2016. Production began in May 2017 and is predicted to continue until 2035.
Read the next installment on July 5 to find out how Panalpina kept the FPSO Glen Lyon working as it was towed across the globe.