InterOil sees enormous potential in AngolaJune 30, 2022
Charly Cadalen, general manager of InterOil Angola, talks to The Energy Year about the maturity of Angola’s oil and gas market, evolving challenges and opportunities in the hydrocarbons sector, and the company’s shift to providing integrated storage and transportation services. InterOil Angola offers an extensive range of oil and gas services.
Would you say Angola is now a mature oil and gas market?
It is true that the northern blocks are reaching a plateau production and need to be redeveloped. But only around 50% of available blocks in Angola have been developed, and the southern part is now developing in what we like to call “the new frontier.” The market still holds huge potential. While other countries in Africa have already reached the edge of a plateau, Angola still has huge development to come.
The country’s onshore basins that were explored in the 1950s still hold enormous potential too. We already know that all the higher areas of Luanda province, and probably up to the eastern margin of the country, are likely to be rich in oil reserves. The objective for the government will be to find a balance between the hydrocarbons potential and the touristic potential these areas have, while protecting nature preservation areas.
What are the key challenges and opportunities in Angola’s oil and gas sector?
With the development of new blocks and the reinforcement of the existing fields to increase national production, Angola is generating tremendous opportunities in terms of value creation, employment and trade volumes. This is resulting in the need for multi-disciplined logistics services in the south of the country, but also an increasing need for brownfield expertise in the north.
In addition, with strong ambitions to ensure its energetic autonomy, Angola is witnessing the development of new activities in relation to oil refining, fertiliser production and other oil byproducts, requiring local service providers to adapt to new types of demands.
Also, the south of Angola has untapped resources which will bring major development opportunities, including for onshore and offshore logistics support.
How does InterOil adapt to these market evolutions?
In recent years, InterOil has initiated a transformation plan in two steps, adapting its marine offer and services, developing offshore and onshore logistics, and integrating brownfield activities. Indeed, in 2014, InterOil materialised a major transformation from marine services leader to onshore and offshore logistics provider.
Now, thanks to our state-of-the-art onshore support base in Viana, we can provide integrated storage and transportation services, with one of the biggest chemical products storage capacities in Angola.
Since making this change, InterOil has been working as a contractor on Block 32, providing onshore support services to the FPSOs Kaombo Norte and Kaombo Sul for TotalEnergies. Anything needed by the production team is supplied by InterOil – the storage of capital spare parts, the staff co-ordination, the chemical management, the transport of chemicals, the packaging and the catering. It was quite a change from being a marine services provider to becoming an all-in-one logistics company. Today, marine is still our core business, but our development efforts focus on logistics and brownfield.
How do you ensure the success of this kind of transition?
First, we rely on our human resources: men and women fully dedicated to delivering. Then we apply the highest standards of the industry to maximise clients’ satisfaction and to operate safely. We have a permanent focus on operational excellence.
This year after the celebration of three years without an LTI onboard the FPSO Kaombo Sul, we will celebrate 2,000 days without an LTI at our onshore support base with the participation of Saipem and TotalEnergies.
In addition, we have strategic alliances with specialised partners in the oil and gas sector to offer more added-value services.
Does that mean InterOil will no longer provide marine-related services?
On the contrary, we are determined to reinforce our historical core business while expanding to new complementary activities.
We keep providing chartering services for specialised vessels while completing our offer with onshore logistics and technical support, becoming the ultimate “one-stop-shop” for all types of needs. InterOil remains a leader in the provision of offshore support vessels and accommodation barges in the region.
For the past five years, prices have been squeezed by operators for traditional vessels, creating a highly competitive market. Our strategy is instead to specialise in the medium- and larger-sized vessel market, where we offer a higher added value with unique features, such as ROVs. In that view, InterOil has reinvented itself, and we still have market share to acquire.
Can you give us some other examples of the company’s business portfolio diversification?
Aside from our onshore base management services, we are taking the company to new markets that are not big enough to trigger the interest of major players but that offer the opportunity for InterOil to expand in a niche. Since 2019, we have been transitioning our focus to new activities including brownfield services. Now InterOil provides services in maintenance, inspection, preservation and flare tip replacement, as well as special lifting activities onshore and offshore.
We have signed a three-year contract in Cabinda for flare tip replacement with Chevron. For this we’ve partnered with Conbit, a worldwide actor in replacements of flare tips, which reassured the client of our combined expertise. This partnership also enables companies like Conbit to access the Angolan market.
What are the most pressing logistics challenges that might hinder offshore development?
Around 50% of Angola’s oil services are provided from the Luanda multi-service port. The port cannot expand anymore, as it is located between an oil storage terminal and a commercial port. It is also extremely far from the Kwanza Basin down south.
The new development that will happen in the south of the country will require a new port. It is probably one of the key areas where additional support for oil and gas could be added. Otherwise, the country will continue to develop with insufficient terminals.
One possibility is the Lobito commercial port. However, the government has just signed the “Lobito corridor,” which intends to double the size of the volume of goods passing through the port. It is massive: the port will probably double in terms of volume, which would limit potential growth in oil and gas operations. Therefore, the south of Angola requires urgent and massive investments to develop new oil and gas port facilities in the coming years and support offshore operations.
What is InterOil’s approach to sustainability?
In terms of vessel provision, in 2021 the Angolan government set out an ambitious roadmap, reiterating its commitment to environmental protection and sustainability. With the reduction of carbon emissions encouraged by the ANPG [National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency], it is our mission to meet the new challenges and to adapt our sourcing to offer the most suitable vessels in terms of performance and competitiveness. To achieve this goal, still significant investments from operators, service providers and authorities will be required.
Anticipating these concerns, InterOil is already developing solutions to deliver sustainable and environmentally friendly marine services. We have decided to follow the United Nations SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] to adapt our activities and projects with clear targets.
Also, InterOil has launched a partnership with Corbeu, a local association in Angola, for the protection of sea turtles, and funded an awareness campaign to prevent plastic pollution in the marine ecosystem of Angola.
How do you view the legal regime for local content in Angola’s oil and gas sector?
Local content is crucial. The development of new local services and products optimises the clients’ operations by ensuring immediate availability, while enhancing local know-how and value creation on a long-term basis.
Local content has always been a key driver for InterOil Angola for sustainable development. In addition to the regular training provided to our employees in our own training centre, we have been promoting our local personnel to key positions, providing opportunities to all. Since the Coved-19 pandemic started, we’ve reduced our number of expats by 50%, and our teams are composed of more than 90% of Angolan personnel.
What are InterOil’s key objectives for 2022?
Our objectives for 2022 are consolidating our brownfield business with strategic partners, while strengthening our offer for specialised onshore support services as well as specialised marine services.