Angola’s high-potential drilling market TEY_Renato-Moure

I would rank Angola within the countries of choice for investors today. It represents a key focal point for the oil industry for 2024-2025.

Renato MOURE Managing Director SONADRILL

Angola’s high-potential drilling market

June 4, 2024

Renato Moure, managing director of Sonadrill, talks to The Energy Year about the company’s performance in 2023, the dynamism of Angola’s drilling sector and how Angola’s drilling market compares to the rest of Africa. Drillship operator Sonadrill is a 50-50 joint venture between Sonangol and Seadrill.

How did Sonadrill perform in 2023?
Contractually, we successfully renewed or extended all three contracts, namely Libongos with Azule Energy and West Gemini and Quenguela with TotalEnergies, underscoring the strength and stability of our partnerships. While Quenguela’s contract extends to the end of 2024, West Gemini and Libongos are secured until mid-2025, with slight variations possible based on contractual specifics.
In terms of health, safety and environment (HSE) performance, 2023 was exceptional. Angola ranked at the top among Seadrill’s owned and managed fleets worldwide for HSE standards, a testament to our commitment to safety and operational excellence. The West Gemini just went one year without any injuries on board.
Additionally, our focus on Angolanisation yielded impressive results, with a high and increasing percentage of our workforce comprising Angolan nationals, which is one of the highest rates in the Angolan drilling market. This achievement reflects our dedication to training and developing local talent.
In particular, we facilitate opportunities for Angolan employees to enhance their skills through training programmes at our Driller Development Academy in Dubai, an enhanced facility complete with a fully immersive, state-of-the-art DS:6000 drilling simulator suite and other third-party training partners.
In 2023, Sonadrill had a remarkable year, particularly with the Libongos and Quenguela seventh-generation drillships and the West Gemini sixth-generation drillship. Looking ahead to 2024, we anticipate maintaining our momentum, with plans to lead the drilling contractor segment in Angola. Our projections indicate that we’ll have a robust presence, with three drillships in the country.

How do you assess the dynamism of the drilling sector in Angola?
The drilling market in Angola has high potential for growth in 2024. Looking ahead to 2025, the drilling market may not experience significant expansion, as no new tenders are currently open, but we remain attentive to the local market, as there are potential fields to be approved by local authorities and operators for exploration and development.
Notable cases include ExxonMobil’s recent approval for the exploration of two blocks in the Namibe Basin. Should these opportunities and approvals progress, there’s a possibility of deploying additional rigs for further exploration activities in 2025 and 2026.


How does Angola as a drilling market compare to the rest of Africa?
It is probably the second-most exciting after Namibia. Namibia has surged in prominence due to recent discoveries in the past three to four years, propelling the country’s oil and gas market growth from virtually nothing. As a result, there’s a rush to capitalise on this burgeoning market and establish a foothold as pioneers.
While Namibia takes the spotlight, Angola continues to experience significant growth, which will have a ripple effect across all sectors, including the drilling sector. In countries such as Nigeria and Ivory Coast, we observe some tender opportunities emerging.
Mozambique holds promise for growth; however, lingering political uncertainties temper expectations. Consequently, while Mozambique’s prospects are noteworthy, they may not soar to great heights in the near term. Overall, I would rank Angola within the countries of choice for investors today. It represents a key focal point for the oil industry for 2024-2025.

How does the company plan to support drilling operations in Namibia?
Namibia is a market that we endeavour to work in. We will continue to pursue opportunities in the region, subject to the availability of our assets. For both Sonadrill and Angola, the emphasis on local content presents an opportunity to impart valuable knowledge to Namibia. As of now, there are no open tenders in Namibia for the services we offer. However, with recent approvals for exploration and development, we anticipate that tenders will emerge by the middle to end of this year. The number of tenders could increase further depending on the discoveries made throughout the year.

How do you foresee the drilling opportunities in the West African region for Sonadrill?
Longer-term contracts are likely to be concentrated in Angola and Namibia, and there are speculations about potential growth in Ghana, while Nigeria is showing some signs of movement after a period of limited-to-no operation.
While opportunities exist in these countries, rig availability is expected to remain low and could slow growth. Despite numerous short-term contracts in place, many rigs are undergoing contract extensions or renewals, along with new contracts being secured, and we see a tendency of increasing contract terms.

How do Sonadrill’s technologies assist IOCs in achieving their efficiency and decarbonisation goals?
We’re investing in various new technologies for drilling operations and drillships and are implementing various automation technologies that increase the safety and efficiency of operations. One example is the installation of managed pressure drilling systems on all our rigs operating in environments that require them.
Energy efficiency and decarbonisation are paramount for oil and gas operations, and Seadrill is investing in various solutions for our entire fleet to support both NOCs and IOCs in achieving their goals.
The West Saturn, currently operating in Brazil, was our first experience with the best energy-efficiency solutions on the market in action. The rig, which is a seventh-generation, ultra-deepwater, dual-activity drillship, is the first in our fleet to successfully use the Advanced Generator Protection system, which improves engine efficiency by running fewer engines and the online engines at higher loads, thus reducing fuel consumption and maintenance costs.
We now have a dedicated team for implementing energy-efficiency solutions on all our rigs to reduce our carbon footprint.

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