Field/project development

Penguins FPSO Arrives at Field Site Northeast of Shetland

Startup work at Shell’s North Sea redevelopment project is on track to commence later this year.

The Penguins FPSO at Aibel shipyard in Norway before leaving for the field site.
Source: Aibel

The Penguins floating production, storage, and offloading ( FPSO) vessel, Shell’s system dedicated to the northeast of Shetland field redevelopment, has arrived at its mooring destination offshore following 16 months of work at Norway’s Aibel shipyard. While no formal statement has been issued, Shell did confirm to JPT that the vessel is on location at the field site.

The milestone kicks off the required installation and commissioning activities. The startup process is anticipated to begin later in 2024, with a gradual ramp up to full production in due course. Penguins will be Shell’s first new manned installation in the North Sea in nearly 30 years.

The Penguins FPSO is a unique cylindrical hull vessel designed by Sevan Marine. The vessel is designed to produce 45,000 BOE/D and store up to 400,000 bbl. Construction on the unit commenced in China before it made the trek across the ocean to Norway on the back of Boskalis heavy transport vessel White Marlin.

Shell took final investment decision to redevelop the Penguins field, about 240 km northeast of the Shetland Islands, in January 2018. The redevelopment decision was forced by the decommissioning of the Brent field in 2017. Penguins was discovered in 1974 and first developed in 2002 via four drill centers tied back to the Brent Charlie platform. The Penguins FPSO will now take the place of the Brent Charlie platform as host for the field’s produced oil and gas volumes. Water depth at the field site is 165 m.

The operator tapped Fluor to lead the engineering, procurement, and fabrication of Penguins FPSO, giving the contractor full responsibility for the design, fabrication, and delivery of the precommissioned FPSO to the North Sea. The FPSO was designed to operate continuously for 20 years without dry docking.

As part of the redevelopment process, Shell plans a further eight wells to be drilled and tied back to the FPSO vessel. Oil will be transported via tanker to refineries, and gas will be transported via the Far North Liquids and Associated Gas System pipeline to the St Fergus gas terminal in northeast Scotland.

Once fully functional, average peak production is expected to be approximately 45,000 BOE/D.

Shell operates Penguins with a 50% working interest. The rest is held by Neo Energy Group. Neo gained its 50% stake in the field via its $1 billion plus acquisition of certain North Sea nonoperated assets from Exxon Mobil in 2021.