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  • Shuttle tankers vs. pipelines in the GOM frontier


    J. Wilson

    The first Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) development is moving forward in the remote, ultra-deep waters of the US Gulf of Mexico (GOM) at Petrobras’ Cascade and Chinook Fields in the promising Lower Tertiary play, Fig. 1. FPSOs are commonly used in other deepwater provinces, but were prohibited in the GOM until recently. Their use makes sense in a frontier environment, especially from a transportation standpoint. Pipeline costs rise disproportionately as water depths increase, while shuttle tanker costs are insensitive to water depth and-to a certain extent-to distance. Wood Mackenzie has analyzed the transportation options of a hypothetical oil discovery in a remote part of the Lower Tertiary play, comparing the costs of shuttle tanker use to paying tariffs through new and existing pipelines. The shuttle tanker has a cost advantage over a pipeline when considering the full life of the field; however, the advantage is concentrated in the first half of the field’s life.

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