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Report - North Sea Producer (Oil Tanker), Middlesbrough - November 2015


Is this the future?
28DL Full Member

“I think she’s in surprisingly good condition – a real testament to the quality of Teesside engineering” (Paul Brook, Deputy Harbourmaster).

The North Sea Producer, weighing an incredible 99,800 tons, is a weathered Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) Vessel. The original tanker, Dagmer Maersk, was constructed in 1983, and it was designed to work in the harsh conditions of the MacCulloch oil field which lies 250km off the north-east coast of Aberdeen. It was converted into an FPSO vessel between 1995 and 1997 in Bex Quay, Middlesbrough. This involved installing topside facilities and integrating modules to the vessel. The 236 metre long unit was adapted to produce 76,000 barrels of oil on a daily basis, and its storage capacity was modified to hold 560,000 barrels of oil. The vessel recently arrived back in the Middlesbrough dock after having spent 18 years in the North Sea. It also made the news back in September 2014, when a diesel leak into a gas turbine almost caused a catastrophic explosion. The ship only returned to Middlesbrough, though, because production at the MacCulloch oil field has ceased. There are several plans in the pipeline, so to speak; some of these include: selling the vessel, redeploying it, or recycling as much of the unit as possible.

The North Sea Producer was capable of oil, gas and water production, so it features its own flare system at the front of the vessel and a vast amount of on-board equipment. Power for the ship itself was generated by 2x6 and 3.5MW dual fuel turbine units. Oil and gas, from the well, were transferred into the vessel through a swivel stack in the turret. This system enabled the ship to operate under all weather conditions. Once the materials were on board, the facility was capable of exporting partially stabilised crude via pipeline or stabilised crude to cargo tanks for exportation via shuttle tanker. The oil was measured to fiscal standards prior to exportation and the gas was compressed through two three-stage compression trains which were electrically driven, so that it could be exported into the pipeline system, or a gas lift. In the dock, the FPSO is moored by utilising a forward mounted internal turret with a mooring spread of three times three anchors connected to the chain table.

In terms of its other on-board systems and facilities, the vessel provides accommodation for 73 crewmembers. Two lifeboats, capable of holding 73 people, can therefore be found on the main deck of the North Sea Producer. Towards the rear of the unit there is a 22.2 metre helideck, which was certified for Sikorsky S61N to LRS AND CAP 437 requirements, and a heli reception area. Two offshore cranes are positioned on the ship and these were capable of lifting weight not exceeding 15 tons over a 30 metre reach, or 11 tons over a 45 metre reach. Inside, the FPSO also contains: a small medical bay, a cafeteria, a cinema room, a control room, a survey/chart room, observation posts, workshops and locker rooms and washing facilities.

Our Version of Events

While everyone has been scouting and exploring the large steelworks over in Redcar, we’ve had our eye on something a little different, and it’s just down the road. We spent a whole evening scouting this one out a few days earlier and, after formulating a plan to avoid certain tide times, security and to get up the side of the vessel itself without using the dockside crane (which is how we think people board the ship normally), we went back a second time to try and get aboard the North Sea Producer. Access onto the dock was reasonably straightforward, with only a little bit of ducking and diving involved, and, luckily for us, the rain even decided to stop. Getting on board was a different matter; indeed, that was very difficult. But, after finding a rather unconventional way onto the vessel, we managed it. I’ll not give away too much more than that however.

As the photos reveal, the FPSO is absolutely massive, so we spent many hours wandering through its various rooms, sections and intricate parts. Much of the equipment, large and small, remains on board, including computers and control systems. It feels as though the ship could probably head back out to sea tomorrow if it was required for further use. For myself, the helipad and control rooms were my favourite sections, although below decks where the engines were located were pretty spectacular. Due to work commitments the next morning, however, and the added pressure of the tide coming back in, we probably didn’t manage to cover every single area of the ship. But, we did have a fair crack at it.

Throughout the explore security were a constant problem since those positioned on our dock were in a nearby cabin. Occasionally they would patrol around the outside premises, so we had to minimise our use of torch light as much as possible while we were exploring any areas with windows. Things weren’t much better on the other side of the vessel either, since there’s a second hut with another couple of guards. Although they’re located on the other side of the water, they had an optimal view of the entire ship. So, if we lit up particular windows I’m certain they would have been able to see the light. We had a couple of moments where we thought we’d been rumbled as there seemed to be lot of activity (people running around and looking towards the ship, roughly in our direction) from the hut over the river, but, somehow, we managed to do the whole explore, and get off the site, without being detected. Finally, a little bit of a tidal problem, or rather our oversight in relation to how high the water actually reaches, meant our exit was a little problematic. Several minutes later, though, and we were happily on our way back to the cars, ready for a few hours of much needed sleep before work the next day.

Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Box and Husky.

*Please note, this is a pic-heavy report - I warned you it was big...

1: The North Sea Producer


2: Looking at The Beast


3: First Glances Inside: a Small Communal Area


4: One of the Main Corridors


5: Inside One of the Bunk Rooms


6: Another Bunk Room


7: Finding Our Way Around


8: Storage Room


9: Computer Room


10: The Cinema Room


11: The Cinema Room (From the Front)


12: Chart/Survey Room


13: Approaches to Tees Bay Map


14: Other Side of the Survey Room


15: Staircase Shot


16: Helipad/Medical Reception and Waiting Room


17: The Medical Bay


18: The Other Side of the Medical Bay


19: Plenty of Supplies


20: Medical Bay Bathroom


21: Laboratory Refrigerator


22: The Control Room/The Bridge


23: On Board Entertainment


24: Entering the Engine Room and Workshops


25: The Engine


26: Heading into the Depths


27: Switches, Dials and Lights


28: The Whole Engine Room


29: Workshop Area


30: Heading Further Down into the Vessel




Is this the future?
28DL Full Member
31: Small Walkway (One of Many)


32: The Propeller Shaft


33: Telephone


34: Getting Lost


35: Emergency Dummy


36: Looking Down at the Engine


37: Oil Barrels


38: Beneath the Helipad


39: Exceptionally Large Wheels


40: Looking Out for Secca


41: Up on Top of the Vessel


42: The North Sea Producer (From Above)


43: The Bridge


44: Electrical Room


45: Ship's Log


46: Inside the Storage Container (Part of it at Least)


47: An Oily Staircase


48: The Depths of the Storage Container


49: Punching Bag on Deck


50: The Helipad


51: One of the Lifeboats


52: Further Down the Vessel




A Predisposed Tourist
Regular User
Really decent explore that mate and i think you have covered it pretty well :thumb


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member

That"s certainly a Hardcore explore lads :thumb

This explains why you didn"t want to join us at the Tourist Hotspots down the road ;)

I was advised by my local guide this was a little iffy access wise so well done getting both on and indeed off, & obviously quality output.

Although i don"t think i"d have ventured into the Tanks area without a 4Gas

I was expecting "The Dinghy" to have played a part in this marine assault & feel a little short-changed it didn"t. Hopefully it"ll have a part to play in Australia :D



Super Moderator
Regular User
Wow bridges of ships have changed from my own image of them! It looks more like a factory office!

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