On November 1, the Angolan Minister of Industry, Botelho de Vasconcelos, officially inaugurated the world's largest, floating oil platform in the world, named Pazflor. Having a potential production capacity of 220,000 barrels of oil per day at a construction cost of some $9 billion, the unit is operated by the oil company Total.
Total began production on its new Pazflor project offshore Angola in August. Oil fields on the venture, which have estimated total reserves of 590m barrels, lie in water depths of between 600 and 1,200 metres and so add to Angola's growing list of deepwater and ultra-deepwater projects.
Standard oil rigs cannot be used in such deep water because they cannot be fixed to the sea bed and so oil companies use ships known as floating, production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels to tap deepwater fields.
Oil is pumped up into FPSOs and then stored until it can be transferred to waiting oil tankers for distribution. Although expensive, such operations remove the need to pipe oil onshore for shipping and allow oil to be tapped in water depths that would otherwise be beyond conventional oil production methods.
According to Total, the FPSO on Pazflor is the biggest in the world, measuring 325 metres by 62 metres with a weight of more than 120,000 tonnes. With storage capacity of 1.9m barrels per day, it could hold Angola's entire production for a single day.
Production will be gradually increased to 220,000 b/d on 49 wells. Total E&P Angola operates the project with a 40% stake, with the remaining equity held by Statoil (23.33%), Esso Exploration Angola (20%) and BP Exploration Angola (16.67%). Most of the world's biggest oil companies are involved in one jumbo Angolan oil project or another. (ANGOP, APA News southern Africa)