Teekay looks forward with new shuttle tanker design
Vessel concept for North Sea use to focus on stern loading.
TEEKAY is looking to design and have built some of the world"s first forward-accommodation shuttle tankers.
The shipping company has teamed up with Norwegian oil company Det Norsje Oljeskap to design the vessels for operation in the North Sea.
The agreement, signed last week, will see the two companies develop the vessel concept, known as a flexshuttle, in a two-year research project co-funded by the Research Council of Norway.
The designs are for gas-powered engines, with electric drive azimuth pods, targeted at the declining North Sea oil fields where yields are expected to fall in the near future.
There will also be design and feasibility analysis input from a Norwegian computer testing firm, Marine Cybernetics, and the Ship Manoeuvring Simulator Centre in Trondheim.
Teekay Shipping Norway vice-president Sten Rynning described the design as a crossover between offshore vessels and tankers. ?The idea is we wanted to turn around the vessel and use the stern, where you have most of the power,? he said.
The project follows on from the multipurpose shuttle tanker designs from Statoil about a decade ago. These vessels, built in South Korea and Spain, were rigged with drill equipment, and have as a result never been used in a shuttle tanker role. The Teekay vessels will be dedicated tankers.
Due to the nature of shuttle tankering, when the vessels are moored to a loading platform or turret they usually face the most prevalent environmental force, such as waves, tide, current or wind. Teekay likens the vessels, with bow loading systems, to balancing a pyramid on its apex, while the flexshuttle hangs the triangle by its apex to increase stability.
?If you have to cast off and move away, it always happens when the bow has an angle towards this dominant environmental force,? said Mr Rynning. ?If the wind shifts, or there is a strong current, then it is always the bow that will go off direction.?
The theory is a vessel moored stern first will effectively push ahead, away from the loading point and in the same direction as the prevailing dominant environmental force. Therefore, operations will become both safer and more efficient.
Teekay expected to have enough information about the vessel and some proven mathematical models to be able to order the first newbuilding in about 18 months, Mr Rynning said, with the first operational in the latter part of 2013.
With reserves in the North Sea likely to run low in a few years, Teekay says the 350,000 barrel vessels will be better suited to depleted fields than the larger vessels currently operational in the region.
?We have four aframax tankers being delivered from Samsung this and next year, and they are purpose-built for current North Sea conditions, but going forward we know the UK and Norwegian North Sea sectors will be in decline,? said Mr Rynning.
Another advantage of an aft loading area with azimuth thrusters on the shuttle tanker is the ability to load straight from a production facility, rather than the current trend of using a loading buoy, platform or floating storage and offloading unit.
Today the only production facilities a shuttle tanker can safely load from are floating production storage and offloading ships, which are also vessel shaped and swivel with prevailing weather conditions.