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Route to start-up: Glen Lyon in the North Sea

Release date:
15 November 2016
As the Glen Lyon FPSO prepares for its start-up, track the journey so far for this 885-foot (270-metre) steel vessel, built to process and store oil and gas from the redeveloped Schiehallion and Loyal fields in the UK North Sea
Bird's eye view: take a spin over the vessel on a grey day

Under construction

The Glen Lyon floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel was constructed at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea, over four years and some 21 million hours.

Glen Lyon replaces the original Schiehallion FPSO with a vessel of superior design, seakeeping and long-term processing capabilities.

Long journey home

The FPSO vessel left Asian waters in early-December 2015. It arrived in Norway in April 2016 and took its permanent place in the North Sea in June. It’s quite a journey, considering the FPSO does not have its own means of propulsion. Tugs were used to tow it, first, the 15,300 nautical miles to Haugesund, Norway (with four bunker stops for refuelling in Singapore; Port Louis, Mauritius; Walvis Bay, Nambia; and Las Palmas, Canary Islands), and then, the 286 nautical miles to the North Sea.

Crew change

The crew has a much easier journey to work, arriving at the Glen Lyon helideck after flying 45 minutes from Shetland to join the rest of the team aboard the FPSO, which resides 108 miles (175 kilometres) west of Shetland.

The 168-strong extended hook-up team is working towards a 2017 start-up.

Staying connected

Inside, the control room now has a fibre-optic link to onshore teams, making communications and data transfers extremely fast.

It also means the crew can join video conferences and video chat with loved ones back home while on rotation. The crew previously had to rely on a much slower satellite connection.

How many people live on board?

There is accommodation for up to 140 people on the new vessel once operations begin.

Safety features

On deck, the FPSO has a number of innovative safety features, such as the lights guiding the night crew; they are within easy reach, meaning light bulb changes can be done with boots on deck - no need for a permit to work at heights and a ladder.

How big is the Glen Lyon FPSO?

To cover the length of the vessel, it's a leisurely four-minute walk from end to end. It actually measures 270 by 170 metres. To put that in perspective, its length is only 30 metres shorter than Paris' Eiffel Tower, if laid on its side.

High riser

This operator is carrying out riser pull-in work. Some 21 risers (pipelines) will perform a range of duties, from carrying oil production from the subsea wells to water injection and gas lift.

The new vessel has a storage capacity of up to 800,000 barrels, while it can process and export up to 130,000 barrels of oil each day.

Good mooring

Keeping the FPSO anchored to the seabed is the turret mooring system. With some 20 mooring lines, each a mix of chain and wire sections measuring almost a mile (1.5 kilometres) in length, the entire mooring system weighs 12,000 tonnes. The turret allows 360-degree rotation of the FPSO, known as ‘weathervaning’, with the FPSO normally positioned head to the prevailing environment.

Support system

Installation of the FPSO’s two dynamic umbilicals - which provide controls and chemicals for the subsea drill centres - and the risers was completed with the help of support vessels.

Project general manager Tony Boyle says: “We still have a big leak-testing and commissioning programme to complete before start-up, but having the risers installed enables the offshore team to focus on the final commissioning work leading to first oil."

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