Asia’s 1st cylindrical FPSO facility loaded onto carrier for installation

The “Haikui No.1” is seen at the Jiaozhou Bay of east China’s Qingdao City, Shandong Province, May 12, 2024. /CFP

The “Haikui No.1” is seen at the Jiaozhou Bay of east China’s Qingdao City, Shandong Province, May 12, 2024. /CFP

Asia’s first cylindrical floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) facility, the “Haikui No.1”, has been successfully loaded onto the giant semi-submersible vessel “Xinguanghuahao” in Jiaozhou Bay, east China’s Qingdao City, Shandong Province, on Sunday. 

The facility, self-developed by China, is now ready to be transported to the Liuhua oilfield in the Pearl River Mouth Basin in the southern part of the country for operation.

At the loading site, dragged by four mooring ropes and pulled by four tugs in different directions, the “Haikui No.1” smoothly arrived at the designated spot on the sea surface. 

Leaving the port at about 5:00 on Sunday, the FPSO facility was on the hull of “Xinguanghuahao” around 15:00, during which the deck of Xinguanghuahao” was able to get down to 25 meters under the sea level and steadily lift the facility above the sea surface.

It took over three hours to load the “Haikui No.1” onto the “Xinguanghuahao,” with an allowable error of no more than 50 millimeters between the final position of the FPSO facility and the longer edges of the semi-submersible vessel. Once the ‘Xinguanghuahao’ is fully out of water, the ‘Haikui No.1’ will be welded onto the deck so that the facility remains stable on the ship, even in strong wind and waves during the upcoming maritime transportation.

The “Haikui No.1” is seen at the Jiaozhou Bay of east China’s Qingdao City, Shandong Province, May 12, 2024. /CFP

The “Haikui No.1” is seen at the Jiaozhou Bay of east China’s Qingdao City, Shandong Province, May 12, 2024. /CFP

“It is the first time that we independently used underwater positioning technology in the loading of domestic marine equipment onto a ship, in an effort to ensure accurate placement of the “Haikui No.1,” said Li Wenbo, the towage design manager of “Haikui No.1”.

“We made the technology solutions, completed the complex computational analysis and the construction and command management and other related work all by ourselves. By doing so, we finally realized the goal of independently implementing the whole loading and towing of a super-large cylindrical floating production equipment,” Li said.

The main deck of “Haikui No.1” is as large as 13 standard football pitches and its height reaches almost 30 floors. Its cylindrical structure gives it a larger contact area with wind, a factor that makes the “Haikui No.1” susceptible to rotation.

“‘Haikui No.1’ is heavy and its draft depth is about the limit of the waterway. Only three days in a month are good enough for operation. For this reason, no operational error was allowed. The loading of ‘Haikui No.1’ requires close cooperation among six towages, and the in-situ accuracy should be calculated at millimeter level with no collisions allowed during the loading process. The loading is the most challenging job of its kind in the industry,” said Wang Jiqiang, the loading project manager of “Haikui No.1”.

The Liuhua oilfield in the Pearl River Mouth Basin will witness the installation of “Haikui No.1” in the coming days. The facility will travel 1,200 nautical miles before staying afloat in a sea area with a depth of 324 meters. It is capable of processing about 5,600 tonnes of crude oil every day.