FPSO is a floating vessel located near an offshore oil field, where oil is processed and stored until it can be transferred to a tanker for transporting and additional refining. FPSOs can range in structure from a converted former supertanker to a new purpose-built vessel.
FPSOs are especially useful in newly established offshore oil regions where there is no pipeline infrastructure in place, or in remote locations where building a pipeline is cost-prohibitive. The use of FPSOs means that a tanker does not need to sit idle while a production facility produces enough oil to fill it. Also, the advantage of FPSOs over pipelines is that once an oil field has been exhausted, the vessel can be moved to another location.
FPSOs are suitable for a wide range of water depths, environmental conditions and can be designed with the capability of staying on location for continuous operations for 20 years or longer. This greater flexibility and versatility makes FPSOs the preferred offshore production method in the oil industry today.