The operators of the Jubilee Field have described the extent of damage to the turret bearing of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah as critical, adding, however, that it will be resolved within schedule for full operation and export of gas to power the thermal units.
The lead operator, Tullow Oil, at the beginning of this month, said they expected to complete the planned maintenance of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah by April 5, 2016.
The measures in place for production from the FPSO will re-start in approximately two weeks’ time and production will gradually ramp up as it prepares to re-issue production guidance once the new operating arrangements are stabilised.
Speaking to journalists after a tour of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah and the Atuabo Gas plant operated by Ghana Gas, the Minister of Petroleum, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, said the damage to the bearing was extensive.
He said the government was aware of the exigency of the situation not only in terms of revenue but also power and would work closely with the partners to resolve the problem as expected.
He said a technical investigation of the condition of the turret bearing on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah had confirmed that the bearing had been damaged and was no longer able to rotate as originally designed.
The turret bearing system is based on special rollers which can accommodate large coupling tolerances and relative deformations of load transmitting structures, while ensuring a passive (low friction) rotation and easy maintenance during the FPSO’s operating life.
The turret connects the flexible pipeline fluid transfer system which helps in pumping the unprocessed oil to the FPSO for processing the export of the associated gas to the shore.
Mr Buah said to ensure safety of the facility, the operators agreed that the platform be shut down for experts to carry out a root cause analysis, which was currently being done by the project team for a long-term remediation option.
Tullow Oil has indicated that initial feasibility studies by the team had confirmed that the bearing issue could be fully resolved.
Effects of the shutdown
The shutdown of the FPSO and the non-export of gas to the shore have resulted in the Volta River Authority (VRA) returning to light crude oil and a loss of 250 megawatts (MW) from the AMERI Plant which burns on gas.
Currently, all the generating units, which hitherto run on 100 per cent gas from Atuabo, have been successfully switched to light crude.
In Tema, several of the units which run on gas are currently off.
Sunon Asogli has several of its units off due to the drop in gas flow from Nigeria.
The FPSO is currently been placed on “heading control” through the use of tugs, which minimises vessel movement around the bearing.
The Chief Executive Officer of Tullow, Mr Charles Darko, said for now its new operating procedures, including the use of a dynamically positioned shuttle tanker (capacity of 250,000 barrels of oil) and a storage tanker (capacity of one million barrels of oil), were being implemented to assure safe production and off-take operations.
No cost yet
The Chief Operating Officer of the partners, Mr Paul McDade, said, “We are focused on resolving this issue with the bearing on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah in a timely and safe manner. We have appointed a highly experienced project team to work on a permanent solution, while our operations team continue to ensure we have in place safe and sustainable arrangements for production from the field.”
Given the ability to continue production, he said, the partners subscribed to the appropriate insurance policies and did not expect that the issue would have a material impact on revenue.