Deepwater technology for Angola’s operatorsNovember 8, 2023
Mathieu Wallach, Welltec's sales director and general manager for Southern Africa, talks to The Energy Year about how the Angolan market has been performing for the company and how Welltec is planning for the future in Angola. Welltec is a technology company that develops and provides efficient, hi-tech solutions for the energy industry.
How has the Angolan market been performing for Welltec?
In 2022 we were able to restart many activities with all of our clients. We were able to reinvest in our resources, and we also renovated our base at Sonils, which is now three times larger.
With the increase in activities that we had last year, there were many challenges regarding our capacity to deliver tools in-country. But at Welltec, all our equipment is built in our manufacturing centre in Denmark. We do not rely on third parties, which means we are able to very quickly respond to market demand. This has favoured us greatly in 2023, and we have been able to more than double the amount of equipment we have available for our customers in Angola.
But having tools and equipment is only half the battle. We are a technology company and as such, need qualified personnel to run the equipment. New hires also require at least six months of on-the-job training before being able to do a job for us.
We have therefore counted on international support, with engineers coming from other countries in Africa (Nigeria, Algeria) but also from further away, such as Norway, the UK and Argentina. The short-term support from these countries enabled us to quickly train our new hires and cover the increase in activity we have seen in 2023.
How has the increase in activities affected the operational availability of Welltec’s tools?
After Covid-19, when clients restarted their activities, they had to secure projects and make sure they were able to deliver the wells, for example. Everybody in the world was restarting activities at the same time, so we first needed clients to commit, and then we needed to obtain the necessary tools and associated resources in-country.
Angola being a deepwater market, the customers had strong financial incentives in securing the equipment in time. The beginning of the year therefore saw a high number of new tool sets shipped to the country.
How have the activities of Welltec in Angola been evolving?
Our top clients last year were ExxonMobil and Azule Energy, followed closely by Chevron, who has become our most active client in Angola. In Angola, Welltec has historically been present in the offshore market, on both deepwater and platform operations.
2023 saw a number of additional drillships coming into Angola, which led to a steep increase in activity for Welltec. In parallel, Chevron decided to invest heavily in workover activities on their platform operated assets in Cabinda. This also translated into a high number of operations assigned to Welltec.
Along with the sheer activity increase, Welltec also brought some new technologies to the market, introducing the Lock-Open solution. This proved very efficient and was immediately adopted by Chevron. This in turn led to a further increase in activity in Angola.
How open is Angola towards Welltec’s new technologies?
The oil and gas market is traditionally quite conservative. It is easily understandable when you consider the amount of investment at stake.
That being said, the majors are generally on the lookout for new technologies, as they understand breakthroughs can lead to substantial savings and efficiency gains. The scale of majors also means they can quickly share technical successes across their company. The introduction of a good technology in Alaska can be presented to another asset on the other side of the world a couple of days later.
As Angola is mainly a deepwater market, the operators are all majors, and as such, they have all adopted Welltec as a key strategic partner for the provision of new technology. This means they trust we are able to successfully deliver new solutions.
What can Welltec’s acquisition of Autentik bring to Angola in terms of new technologies?
The inclusion of the Autentik portfolio within the Welltec offering completes our fishing suite and reinforces our commitment to delivering turnkey solutions to our customers. By removing the uncertainty of the “dumb-iron” approach often used in fishing, the Autentik technology enables Welltec to propose a fully controllable fishing solution, which is compatible with our unrivalled 100K Stroker.
Deploying such technologies in Angola increases the efficiency of our customers’ operations and ultimately brings additional production for Angola.
What is the key strategic priority for Welltec in Angola for the next five years?
At Welltec, we see Angola as a strong pillar of our future. Angola needs the majors as much as the majors need Angola, and Welltec is a key partner to the majors in delivering their production plans.
Welltec’s vision is therefore to reinforce its roots in the Angolan oil and gas industry by continuing to develop its relationship with its customers and also with the local communities. Today, we are proud to claim that 80% of our employees are Angolan. We thrive to continue this effort of Angolanisation, along with key actions aimed at alleviating poverty. We are supporting Lar Kuzola, an orphanage that looks after more than 300 children.
These kinds of projects motivate us to continue with the impressive expansion we have demonstrated over the last years, bringing breakthrough technologies to the Angolan market.