A quantitative risk analysis was performed to assess and compare oil spill and fatality risks for four representative deepwater production systems in the Gulf of Mexico. Three of the study system types have already been operated successfully in the Gulf of Mexico: two floating production systems in deepwater with oil pipelines, a Spar and a Tension Leg Platform (TLP); and a shallow-water jacket serving as a hub and host to deepwater production. One of the study system types has been used in the Gulf of Mexico: a tanker-based Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) system with oil transportation to shore via shuttle tankers. The objective of this analysis was to understand and compare the risks of the FPSO with those for currently acceptable alternatives for deepwater production.
Conceptual system descriptions that are representative of the existing and typical technology in the Gulf of Mexico were developed for the four systems. The scope of these descriptions included the entire productions systems and operations from the wells through the transport of product to the shore.
Three risk measures were assessed and analyzed for each system: the total number of fatalities in a 20 year production life as a measure of the human safety risk, the total volume of oil spilled in a 20 year production life as a measure of the chronic environmental risk, and the maximum volume spilled in a single incident in a 20 year production life as a measure of the acute environmental risk. The process of developing the conceptual descriptions for the systems and then evaluating the risks has drawn on expertise from all facets of oil and gas production, including operators, contractors, manufacturers, class societies and regulators.
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