Innovation

At SBM, we are focussed on continuously improving our products and developing new technology to meet the demands of the offshore industry. We lead our peers in R&D investment focussed on ultra-deepwater production, particularly for the challenging fields of Brazil and West Africa, offshore LNG production and Arctic technology.

Deepwater Systems

SBM Offshore develop solutions for ultra-deepwater challenges across our full product range, including FPSOs, mooring systems, semi-submersible platforms and steel risers. Our products today are operating in water depths close to 2500 meters, already making them some of the deepest production facilities in the world, and we are now striving towards the 3000 meter production barrier.

FPSO systems

SBM positions itself at the top end of the FPSO market, focussing on the largest and most complex projects in this sector. For instance, we are currently developing two ultra-deepwater FPSO projects for production of pre-salt fields in Brazil. When complete, these will be the largest vessels in SBM Offshore’s fleet in terms of throughput and topsides complexity. Both units will include extensive gas conditioning systems along with large gas compression plants for gas re-injection at very high pressures. We are also developing other complex FPSO concepts, including FPSOs equipped with novel gas to liquids processing technology, and FPSOs for production and processing of ultra-heavy crude oil. The Company expects both of these new FPSO products to have an emerging market in the future.

Mooring Systems

SBM Offshore is the world leader in complex mooring systems. We recently supplied the internal turret mooring system, one of the highest capacity mooring systems ever built, for BP’s Skarv FPSO in Norway. This unit was installed in 2011, but will soon be overtaken by an even larger capacity system, the Prelude FLNG turret for Shell, which SBM is currently designing.

This internal turret mooring system marks a step-change in existing technology, and consequently the innovative new components required are now undergoing qualification testing. The SBM Offshore laboratory in Carros, France, performs extensive testing on advanced fluid swivel and swivel sealing systems to qualify new products. These components represent significant advances in the industry as they expand the allowable operating envelope of turret mooring systems.

One significant development, fully qualified during 2011, is a new High Voltage AC electrical swivel design, suitable for around 150 MW capacity, which allows large turret moored FPSOs to be fully powered from shore. The Company received a “Spotlight on New Technology” award at OTC 2011 for this new product. Other advances include a new swivel design for ultra high pressure applications, which was fabricated during 2011 and will undergo a qualification test programme in 2012.

Offshore floating solutions

SBM Offshore’s Deep Draft Semi®  hull design is now well proven in service, after operating on the Independence Hub and Thunder Hawk fields for several years. Both units are connected to subsea wells. Recently we further developed this proven hull design as a ‘dry tree’ configuration, to allow the use of surface mounted Christmas trees in ultra-deepwater fields in Brazil and in the Gulf of Mexico. The design successfully completed the first stage of model testing, and will be further developed during 2012. This new product has the advantage of overcoming the inherent water depth limitations of TLP platforms, which is tendon related, and consequently offers great potential for the ultra-deepwater High Pressure/High Temperature fields of the future, where dry trees are preferred.

Risers

As a consequence of the trend towards production operations in ultra-deepwater fields and High Pressure/High Temperature fields, there is now greater industry focus on steel riser systems rather than unbonded flexible risers or hybrid riser towers. We have been working to develop the steel-riser solution for larger and more complex turret moored FPSOs to help the industry meet the growing challenges of High Pressure/High Temperature fields in ultra deepwater.

SBM Offshore’s Espirito Santo FPSO is the world’s first turret moored FPSO to be equipped with steel risers. We are now developing an enhanced version of this turret design, with capacity for a greater number of steel risers in ultra deepwater conditions. We have developed and qualified an enhanced connector device to allow the deployment of steel risers without the need for welding offshore, offering considerable benefits in terms of material selection, installation time, and cost.

Offshore LNG

SBM Offshore has been pioneering the development of LNG FPSOs for a number of years. This new technology is now gaining wide acceptance with the first FLNG project sanctioned in 2011. Recently, we completed a full Front End Engineering Design (FEED) study for a complex FLNG project in Brazil, working in conjunction with our partners Chiyoda and DSME. SBM Offshore is currently completing a pre-FEED on a second FLNG project, jointly with Linde Engineering and our client PTTEP.

In the future, SBM Offshore will focus mainly on FLNG projects where it can add most value by acting as a main contractor, as it does successfully for the FPSO market. Hence, the primary focus will be on medium sized FLNG projects, up to 2.0 million tonnes per annum capacity, where SBM Offshore can play a leading role in the project.

For the larger FLNG projects, typically 2.5 mtpa and above, SBM will normally not accept a role of main contractor, and will target a lesser scope of work and a risk profile more compatible with its size.

LNG Transfer Systems

Over the past six years SBM has been developing the COOL™ hose LNG transfer system, now fully qualified by two classification societies. The COOL™ hose is the first fully qualified floating LNG hose for cryogenic service. It has already been proposed for use on one FLNG project. The Company received a “Spotlight on New Technology” award at OTC 2011 for this product – one of two awards received by SBM Offshore in 2011 – an outstanding achievement in which it takes great pride.

Arctic Technology

SBM has considerable experience in Arctic production, including the Okha FSO offshore Sakhalin Island, which we operated for 10 years. As interest in production systems for Arctic locations increases, the Company has performed several studies into mooring systems suitable for ice-prone locations, as well as hull design for Arctic climates when subject to ice loads. This work will continue into 2012, to prepare for an emerging market in this region.