Angola’s Paenal yard prepares for the futureSeptember 21, 2022
Luís Barroso, general manager of Porto Amboim Estaleiros Navais (Paenal), talks to The Energy Year about the company’s strategy for adapting to a changing market, such as decommissioning offshore structures and developing renewable energy, and the competitive advantages it offers to clients and partners.
What is the first step in the yard’s regeneration and diversification strategy?
We want our diversification vision to become a reality in the near future, and fast. At this stage Paenal is still a construction yard, supporting the offshore oil and gas industry. But we are preparing ourselves for the future with complementary scopes of work, starting with decommissioning of offshore structures.
The demand for this activity will start at a slow pace because there aren’t so many units at the end of their lifecycle yet. However, Angola has plenty of mature fields that will start to undergo plug and abandonment process soon. This, coupled with global energy transition trends, will increase the demand for decommissioning activities.
With the support of the ANPG [National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency], we are positioning Paenal to take the leading role in this activity within the local fabrication yards. We are in the process of collaborating with an international global integrated energy services provider in order for them to perform the offshore decommissioning stage and the yard to finalise it onshore. At the same time, we have already identified an Angolan local content company to work with us on waste management.
How can decommissioning activities provide the steel scrap needed for other energy-related fabrications?
There is an opportunity for yards in Angola to use their fabrication capabilities in the production of high-voltage electricity transmission towers. We have the in-country know-how, and we can use the scrap produced in decommissioning as a raw material for electrification systems.
The national electrification target of 60% by 2025 will require that the country put up several transmission systems that will need new towers. Yards use steel as a raw material to do much more complicated structures to support the oil and gas industry, so these towers are relatively simple.
Angola has a surplus of power generation. Recycling offshore platforms into transmission towers could enable the country to export electricity to neighbouring countries and replace oil and gas revenues in light of the unavoidable shrinking of hydrocarbons activity in the future.
How do you envision Paenal’s foray into renewable energy?
We are assessing the possibility of bringing Orbital Marine Power’s O2 tidal turbine to transform Paenal into an integrated energy company. It is a very interesting proposal. We are in the process of better understanding the behaviour of our sea, measuring the tides and their velocity, to understand how these renewable energy generation units could work in the coast near the yard.
There are some abandoned blocks near this coast that present the perfect location to install these innovative floating turbines. Each 2-MW unit would be connected by subsea umbilical cable to a local onshore electricity network at the yard.
Another logical and feasible possibility in this plan would be to install a hydrogen plant at Paenal to store this power generated offshore in a sustainable manner. Such a plant would need a 6-MW supply to run. We think we could install five O2 units here, which at 2 MW each could generate 10 MW. This would be enough to power our yard, supply electricity to the yard and transform the rest into hydrogen. Another key aspect of this would be to install a desalination plant in order to process seawater and provide clean water to the hydrogen plant.
What steps are you taking today to enable these changes?
While maintaining our scope of work in supporting oil and gas, because gas will be the transition fuel for this process, we are already starting to transform Paenal into a shipyard to perform ship maintenance and repairs. We are looking into building some vessels here too.
This is a time when we need to invest in the company in order to prepare it for the future. Having the support from the shareholders, and from the governmental entities, is very important to give us the guarantee that everything is going to be executed as we wish.
What is the significance of Paenal’s fabrication yard for Angolan local content?
Paenal has been a flagship company in Angola. We received the first FPSOs that came to the country. We achieved very good results with those projects. We were given a high evaluation not only regarding the quality of our facilities, but also for our staff and technicians.
Since its creation in 2007, Paenal has become one of the most modern yards in Africa, with a solid reputation in the construction of complex projects for the major oil and gas operators and capable of constructing about 10,000 tonnes per year of topsides/modules, wellhead platforms, subsea equipment and heavy structural steel.
One of our most recent projects is the engineering, procurement, fabrication, hydro-testing, painting, thermal insulation and load out of six 12-inch production spools of approximately 80 metres in length to replace the existing spools in the P303 & 304 Block 17 Dalia field for TotalEnergies.
How would all these changes affect the socioeconomic development of Porto Amboim?
We are keeping our workforce mobilised. In the future, some of them will maintain their normal role, as some activities such as procurement and QA/QC will remain the same. But we will have to adapt to new realities. Welders for construction yards, for instance, will have to be re-trained for these new activities. We will reinforce our labour with new employees, and of course provide them training to be well adapted to the positions that we will need in the future.
Paenal is moving forward, and our local community will feel this positive impact in the local economy. If we double or triple the number of employees, naturally, the impact on the secondary economy of Port Amboim will be huge in terms of the hotels, the restaurants, the stores… everything.
How is the company working to reduce its carbon footprint?
We are also installing solar panels on the roofs of our buildings and trying to take the greenest approach to the process by reducing our reliance on thermal power. In a bid to halt our use of diesel generators, we already have the support and confirmation from the Cuanza Sul provincial government to extend the provincial transmission grid into the yard.
Paenal is a joint venture between Sonangol (40%), SBM Offshore (30%) and DSME (30%). The company was formed as an initiative to develop Angolan fabrication capacity and boost local content. The full development of the Paenal yard was completed in 2013 with the commissioning of a 2,500-tonne heavy-lift crane, the second-largest crane in Africa. With its participation in TotalEnergies’ CLOV 1 project, Paenal achieved a series of unique accomplishments such as having the first FPSO to berth at a quay in Angola and completing the first module fabrication and integration in an Angolan yard. The yard is located 3 kilometres south of Porto Amboim and provides 2 million man-hours of fabrication works annually at full capacity.
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