Chinese yard Bomesc Offshore Engineering has cut first steel on the topsides modules for the floating production, storage and offloading vessel destined for Equinor's $8 billion first-phase Bacalhau pre-salt development offshore Brazil.

The steel cut on 1 June at Bomesc’s facility in Tianjin city is the first milestone before the delivery of the modules for the floater in October next year.

Milestone: Bomesc cuts first steel for Brazil-destined floater topsides Photo: BOMESC

As a subcontractor to Japanese floater specialist Modec, Bomesc will build the modules for power generation, low-pressure separation and the public utilities of the FPSO, while Norway’s Aibel will complete the remainder of the topsides modules at its facilities in Thailand.

The floater’s hull is being built at another Chinese yard, Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (DSIC), which is also responsible for the floater’s living quarters engineering and construction as well as marine system commissioning and part of the topsides modules.

Modec and Aibel earlier completed the front-end engineering and design and detailed engineering for the floater.

The floater is built to Modec’s M350 design, with a hull around 364 metres long, 64 metres wide and 33 metres deep, and with storage capacity of around 2 million barrels of crude.

Once built, it will be one of the largest such vessels to enter operation in Brazil, featuring topsides able to handle 220,000 barrels per day of oil and 15 million cubic metres per day of natural gas.

The FPSO will be installed on Block BM-S-8 on the location where former operator Petrobras made the Carcara discovery in March 2012.

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Once completed, the hull and modules will be shipped to Singapore for integration at Keppel Shipyard.

Bomesc’s steel cut took place at a time when state-controlled Equinor and its partners ExxonMobil and Petrogal earlier this week sanctioned the $8 billion first-phase Bacalhau development.

First oil from the project in the deep-water Santos basin is expected in 2024, with operator Equinor saying this week that it will have a breakeven of less that $35 per barrel.

The development will consist of 19 wells tied back to the floater.

Bacalhau is situated across two licences — BM-S-8 and North of Carcara. The development plan was approved by Brazil's National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas & Biofuels (ANP) in March this year.