A boost for activity at the Kwanda BaseOctober 24, 2022
Manuel Graças de Deus, general manager of Kwanda – Suporte Logístico, talks to The Energy Year about trends in activity and occupancy at the Kwanda Base, the key role of co-operation within the value chain for cost optimisation and the latest developments in the Soyo area. Kwanda – Suporte Logístico operates the Kwanda Base, a logistics hub in Soyo.
How is the recent upsurge in operators’ offshore activities impacting activity at the Kwanda Base?
Business is increasing rapidly. Of course, we didn’t realise that in 2021, because the world was at a standstill. But we are seeing increased operations during 2022. The operators based at Kwanda Base are increasing their offshore operations. Eni’s growing operations and ExxonMobil’s recent launch of a drilling campaign have increased business for us in all dimensions of our integrated services.
This generates a multiplier effect that also presents a lot of challenges for us in terms of ensuring we have the necessary infrastructure, equipment and so forth. But we’re working to make sure that we respond adequately to our clients’ needs.
Are you also seeing some inflow of local companies wanting to set up workshops in the Kwanda Base?
Yes, both local and international companies are seeking to set up yards, warehouses, workshops, offices and more. The pandemic also pushed our clients to seek more in-country and in-base warehousing and workshop capacities. The water is warming, and with added drilling activity and increased operations offshore, there are more companies setting up shops to provide operators with drilling and operation services, chemicals provision and more. They want to set up shops to be near the operator.
As of Q2 2022, what are the occupancy dynamics like in the Kwanda Base?
If we go back to 2015, before the big crash, the base was fully occupied. There was not a single inch of space for anybody. Over the last few years, a lot of companies left the Base because of the lack of demand for services.
The operators didn’t reduce their footprint, but many of the service companies left. This space is slowly being reoccupied, and either those same service companies are coming back to reoccupy that space or other new service providers are seeking new areas and infrastructure so that they are set to provide the needed services. So the demand that we’re seeing is in the reoccupation of the space that had been left in the last few years and of new entrants that have captured new contracts.
If we eventually have to expand, of course our shareholders will help us evaluate the opportunity as long as there is a good business case, but right now the business case that exists is for the space that we have, which is sufficient for this increase in demand.
What was the base’s process for fully reopening after the slowdown caused by the pandemic?
We closed the base back in August 2020, and since then we operated with many restrictions and limited services. Fortunately, we managed our business well, and we were able to maintain our workforce fully during the tough times of reduced business. Eventually, we managed to reopen with no major setbacks. Of course, we were creative in how we managed our workforce during that time, be it on a rotational basis or working from home. The Base only fully reopened on April 1, 2022. This brought the challenge of readjusting our workforce to a normal work schedule. But we didn’t lose people: folks are coming back to the new normal with creativity and adjusting to the challenges.
What is the most important variable for attracting new clients?
With the new opportunities that are coming up, operators are more active and this requires the presence of contractors to provide them services. Our long-term engagement with these players has always remained stable. We are engaged and focused on improving our infrastructure and creating an environment that is attractive and a win-win position for us and our clients so that they will stay, and we can continue to attract new businesses.
We capture business opportunities by providing integrated services. It’s not just a matter of price or cost. From a cost standpoint, taking distances into account, for some operators, it’s better to operate out of Luanda. But for the northern blocks, it’s better to operate out of Soyo.
How important is co-operation within the value chain for cost optimisation?
With the reopening of the Base now that the pandemic is fading, all of the logistics that were crucial for managing Covid-19 have decreased in price and become less needed. Finding lower-cost ways of doing business requires creativity in how the Base is managed and in our work with our suppliers.
Like us, our clients want to reduce their costs. We’re all together in this game and all part of the same chain. By working together as partners, we can manage our costs to the benefit of all. To be successful in this, we need to sit down at the table and try to understand each other’s business. Our clients and our suppliers do understand that we all need to survive.
What are the latest developments in the Soyo area?
Soyo is certainly a growth area. A marine passenger terminal has recently been inaugurated. That will increase both passenger and commercial traffic between Luanda, Soyo and Cabinda. There is also the upcoming launch of the Soyo Refinery project, as well as the launch of the new fertiliser industrial complex that will be built in Soyo. All of these projects, together with the Northern Gas Project, which was created to reinforce the natural gas supply from the Quiluma and Maboqueiro offshore fields to the Soyo ALNG plant and combined-cycle power plant, are good signs of Soyo’s future development.
Considering that Kwanda is also the operator of the Soyo commercial port, we make sure that all of these developments positively impact our business. We will take advantage of our geographical position and our critical business position in Soyo. We represent the only place where all these projects can develop from the standpoint of utilisation of the port and the associated integrated services, including infrastructure areas, accommodation and more.
How big of an impact does the Kwanda Base have on local content development?
Local content is a given for us. Kwanda is local content, and the impact of Kwanda on the local economy is major. As a company, we are the biggest employer in Zaire province. We work with international and local companies, to which we provide many opportunities. Our socioeconomic impact is significant, and we aim to continue with that, be it in providing long-term opportunities for local companies, or investing in the social development of Soyo.
What are the company’s goals for the future?
The end result will be to have the Kwanda Base with full occupancy and consistent business activity. But first and foremost, our goal is to develop the human capital of Kwanda and improve on the infrastructure of the Base. We work to make sure that our services are at the level required by our clients. The challenge is to make sure that we have the quality of service that comes with quality people, quality infrastructure and quality equipment. As a service provider, we need to make sure that we have a satisfied client. A satisfied client brings additional clients or is more open to requesting other services.
Training is an important aspect of our business that we need to improve. As we do so, it will bring greater quality of service to our clients. The foundation exists; we just need to make sure that we are ready for the upcoming challenges.