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West of Shetland to West Coast: Foinaven FPSO to depart BP oilfield

Foinaven FPSO cracks
The Petrojarl Foinaven FPSO

The Foinaven FPSO is leaving the namesake BP oilfield for Hunterston Port – but vessel owner Teekay has kept schtum on its final decom location.

In August, the production ship will head off to the west coast terminal on the Firth of Clyde, around 35 miles from Glasgow.

There it will undergo demobilisation and certain dismantling work to become a “bare boat”, such as removal of BP signage and equipment, which is expected to take 2-3 weeks.

Afterwards the FPSO will be handed back to owner Teekay to decide on next steps.

A BP spokesperson said: “The FPSO will be taken to Hunterston for the removal of BP-owned or leased equipment and other materials before it is handed back to vessel owners, Teekay Corporation, who will reassume responsibility for the vessel and its future plans.

“The BP work at Hunterston prior to handover of the FPSO to its owners is expected to last around two to three weeks.”

Teekay has not disclosed where it will take the FPSO for decommissioning – or for reuse, if it chooses that option.

However, the vessel has had several serious HSE issues, ultimately leading to it being taken off Foinaven, a west of Shetland oilfield still thought to hold some 200 million barrels.

In order to take the vessel out of Scottish waters for decommissioning, an application has to be handed in to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

SEPA told Energy Voice it has not received any such application.

About 25 BP staff members support the Foinaven asset onshore and offshore.

BP said last year there would not be any redundancies at the company as a result of its decision; they will support the vessel departure and work on future development options for the field.

Teekay, who owns the vessel, and Altera Infrastructure, who operates it, have been asked to confirm whether they expect redundancies.

The typical number of people on board the ship is around 90.

Teekay has not responded to requests for comment.

In April 2021, BP made the decision to remove the Petrojarl Foinaven vessel due to the age of the FPSO, which has suffered persistent safety problems, and the demands of operating off Shetland.

Foinaven was the first field west of Shetland to begin production, in 1997, and the FPSO is now reaching the end of its 25-year design life, BP said at the time.

Two months prior, the UK Health and Safety Executive said it had identified cracks in the ship’s hull.

Inspectors questioned the “residual strength of the hull” and cast doubts on the vessel’s suitability for operating in the harsh seas west of Shetland.

It was reported in March this year by Reuters that BP is seeking to sell its stake in Foinaven, though this has not been confirmed by the operator.

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