What is a MOPU?

A Mobile Offshore Production Unit (MOPU) is any type of portable structure that can be reused when producing oil and/or gas. Due to their mobility and versatility, installing wellbay modules on the hulls of MOPUs can be the perfect solution for many offshore projects where early production is required to generate income or to gain a better understanding of the production characteristics of a field. For developments which have an anticipated short production life, they can be low-cost development options in comparison to a fixed platform or structure.

The two main types of structures which fall under the MOPU category are:

Each of these solutions are established as dependable and effective mainstays in the industry, boasting a solid history of performance in various roles including drilling, combined drilling and production, as well as exclusive production operations. Each has its own set of advantages and is chosen based on various factors including water depth, environmental conditions, the seabed, and the specific requirements of the field.

A solution that can deal with local weather conditions is also key. For instance jack-up rigs with subsea high-pressure riser systems offer a particularly sturdy solution that can be used, without interruption, in conditions exceeding 50-year extreme storms and waves typically exceeding 20 metres in the North Sea for example.

Why is MOPU engineering beneficial?

Just as there are a variety of different types of MOPU, there also exists a variety of benefits and reasons for deploying one as part of an offshore project. Some of these include:

1) Flexibility, mobility and reduced upfront costs

Modification via MOPU engineering can offer a highly flexible and alternative solution for oil and gas fields where the construction of a fixed platform is not economical. For example, once a field declines, or if production rates are not what was anticipated, the MOPU can be relocated cost effectively with lower overall abandonment cost when compared to fixed platforms.

This can transform the economics of many fields by providing a lower cost field development solution. For example, regions such as West Africa that have many marginal shallow water fields this can be a major factor in decisions around project approval.

2) Accelerated first production:

MOPUs can be deployed by operators to begin production and generate income ahead of the complete field development process, including while a permanent facility is being constructed, supporting projects where early returns are key more viable.

Recent developments, such as the energy security crisis, have demonstrated the critical importance of being able to speed up tapping into new offshore resources. In situations where you cannot afford to wait for large, costly, and complex fossil fuel projects with multi-year timescales, MOPUs become a key tool to maximising the speed and cost-efficiency of production.

When should you be using a MOPU?

Comprehensive planning is essential, not only to determine if a MOPU is the right choice for your project, but to also select the most suitable type for your needs. At Aquaterra Energy, our expertise spans over decades in both fixed and mobile production solutions, providing you with a consultative and independent service. Our capabilities extend from the concept design, pre-FEED and FEED stages of field development, to the final construction, installation and commissioning of projects.

Following the early concept and Pre-FEED stages, should a MOPU be deemed the most efficient option, our expert teams can support in engineering the conversion and delivery of MOPU systems, tailored to meet the unique requirements of each project.

Our expertise opens up the potential for successful production in fields previously considered non-viable. The versatility of installing a wellbay module on a MOPU’s hull allows for various configurations, accommodating different water depths and well counts.

A flexible option

But MOPUs aren’t just for mobile solutions; they enhance the flexibility of projects with fixed platforms too. A testament to this is our pioneering wellhead support structure Sea Swift platform project off Malaysia’s coast, which seamlessly integrates with a nearby MOPU for power generation, process systems, and crew accommodations. Jackups are also frequently used as support platforms for other offshore and wind projects, demonstrating the full range of their flexibility.

Image of semi-submersible

Early engineering decisions are pivotal in a project’s success. Deciding on the use of a MOPU, and the type deployed, should be made at the earliest stages of a project. Whether it’s choosing between a jacketed, monopile, or conductor supported platform (CSP), or exploring different MOPU types, our extensive engineering expertise and solutions are here to guide you towards the most economical and efficient project development.

Click here to speak to a member of our team about our MOPU offering.


“Review on Fixed and Floating Offshore.” Journal of Marine Science and Engineering 10, no. 8 (2022): 1074. https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse10081074.

“What are MOPUs and FPSOs?” Oil & Gas IQ. November 22, 2018. https://www.oilandgasiq.com/oil-gas/news/what-are-mopus-and-fpsos.

“MOPUs Evolving to Meet Greater Depth, Flexibility Challenges.” Offshore, February 1, 2000. https://www.offshore-mag.com/drilling-completion/article/16763365/mopus-evolving-to-meet-greater-depth-flexibility-challenges.

Key takeaways: 

In this piece we have answered:

What is a Mobile Offshore Production Unit (MOPU)?

A Mobile Offshore Production Unit (MOPU) is ‘any type of portable structure that can be reused when procuring oil and gas from the seabed.’

What types of offshore structures could be classified as MOPUs?

There are two main types of offshore structures which fall under the MOPU category. These are jack-ups and semi-submersibles and drillships.

Why are MOPUs an important offshore technology?

Due to their mobility and versatility, installing wellbay modules on the hulls of MOPUs can be the perfect solution for many offshore projects where a fixed platform or structure isn’t viable, offering an advanced solution to low-cost field development, perfect for new or marginal offshore fields.

How can MOPUs be effectively deployed for offshore operations?

MOPUs can be deployed by operators to begin production and generate income ahead of the complete field development, including when a permanent facility is being constructed, making projects where early returns are key, more viable.