Slick recovery

The Scottish Venture Fund and Energy Ventures have provided a £2m funding boost for a technology that could aid in the recovery of stranded oil reserves.

The Scottish Venture Fund and Energy Ventures have provided a £2m funding boost for a technology that could aid in the recovery of stranded oil reserves.

Sigma Offshore will use the money to further develop its Smart Mooring System (SMS), which connects FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) vessels to subsea wells and pipelines.

SMS is claimed to be a cost-effective and flexible alternative to existing internal turret and mooring devices, which the group’s chief executive, Alistair Dornan, said are expensive and difficult to install.

Dornan explained: ‘Quite often, with other mooring systems, you have to cut off the bow of the ship, and really rebuild quite a large structure. These systems are really huge and are suited to large oil fields that can have up to as much as 70 risers these days. However, our system is mostly suited to small-to-medium fields and is relatively lightweight, easy to install and therefore a lot cheaper.’

The bow-mounted SMS works by anchoring a tubular flotation canister to the seabed at an angle. The flexible risers that come up from the oil wells or manifolds on the sea bed are fed through the canisters into a gimbal and mooring swivel. The oil is then transferred onto the ship where it is processed and stored.

Dornan added: ‘What we’re really going after with our product is developing reserves that would be more marginal. These can be found in remote areas where you’re not close to any pipelines or infrastructure, but you know you’ve got reserves, such as North West Australia and offshore Thailand.’

Ellie Zolfagharifard