More efficient port services in TrinidadJune 25, 2018
Neil Bujun, managing director of Asco in Trinidad, talks to TOGY about logistics issues in Trinidad and Tobago, how to create efficiencies in the domestic sector, efforts to provide improved services to clients and plans to work in Guyana. Oilfield and logistics services provider Asco has been operating in Trinidad and Tobago since 2001.
• On efficiency boosts: “One major area of inefficiency for oil and gas companies is the logistics side, mainly because they don’t share vessels and facilities. Therefore, you tend to have a lot of spare capacity in vessels and shore-based facilities. We are in discussions with clients to see how we can work to develop a sharing model to create additional value and decrease turnaround times.”
• On plans for work in Guyana: “We have to set up a footprint in Guyana with local content. The plan is to get into true partnerships with other companies that are operating there right now. We’ll be looking at setting up a local-based company with almost 100% local content, because we plan to have a lot of knowledge transferred to the local Guyanese.”
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Have there been efforts between companies to share facilities and labour to create efficiencies?
Yes, absolutely. One major area of inefficiency for oil and gas companies is the logistics side, mainly because they don’t share vessels and facilities. Therefore, you tend to have a lot of spare capacity in vessels and shore-based facilities. We are in discussions with clients to see how we can work to develop a sharing model to create additional value and decrease turnaround times.
Our Chaguaramas facility, MHL [Mariners Haven Limited], is a classic example of a multi-user facility, where we have an anchor client but also service other ad hoc clients. The anchor client benefits in reduced facility charges whenever we service other clients. Our proposals to new clients are heavily weighted on cost-sharing initiatives. When it comes to human capital, sharing the base itself comes with sharing the manpower, since the manpower is allocated to the base.
Where do you see the biggest public infrastructure bottlenecks?
You often hear, “build the ports and development will occur around the ports,” but you really do need proper infrastructure to support the ports.
We see that at the Galeota port, which is a good port, but where the draught is an issue. They have plans to do a second expansion, but the major bottleneck would be the road to get to Galeota. In fact, all our clients are telling us that they may consider Galeota, but the road transportation risk is too high. They would rule all that activity out based on the road transportation risk to get to Galeota.
Similarly, La Brea would have been much further developed if the highway had been developed properly.
To what extent have unions hampered private sector efforts to participate in the ports?
It is a real problem, particularly in certain locations such as Galeota and La Brea. We’ve experienced stoppages, since Asco was heavily unionised. However, we do manage to maintain a good, cordial relationship with the unions.
Sometimes there are road blockages that are unrelated to our business. When another tenant at Labidco [La Brea Industrial Development Company] was doing the Juniper project and there were stoppages, it would affect our operation, even though it had nothing to do with us.
What recent investments has Asco made in its logistics business?
Asco is heavily involved in investments in the industry. In fact, we are a leader as far as technology goes in the oil and gas logistics business. We have a system called ILMS [integrated logistics management system], which basically digitalises oil and gas logistics operations. It basically is taking an end-to-end approach to digitalisation of all movements. In this way, we can optimise vessels, space and utilisation, road transportation and also have real-life detail on all movements and help with decision making along the entire process.
We see this as a state-of-the-art tool to help with efficiency, cost reduction and overall improvements in the logistics business. We are proposing this to our existing and new clients. We want to introduce it in Trinidad in late 2018 to both BHP and other existing customers.
As far as infrastructure, we are investing in certain equipment and infrastructure, both at Chaguaramas and La Brea to help service our clients.
What opportunities do you see in Guyana?
Our initial approach to Guyana was to come in directly to Exxon. The major obstacle there was a number of restrictions with respect to local content. We decided to work with local companies in partnerships where we provide technical support, rather than trying to get in directly to Exxon.
We are targeting other players established there, but we have to set up a footprint in Guyana with local content. The plan is to get into true partnerships with other companies that are operating there right now. We’ll be looking at setting up a local-based company with almost 100% local content, because we plan to have a lot of knowledge transferred to the local Guyanese.
We have a sister company called NSL [North Sea Lifting] which is the gold standard in lifting in oil and gas logistics. We will be taking NSL and its certification and technical training to Guyana.
What are some of Asco’s plans and projects moving forward?
One of the things clients desire, but is very difficult to get, is what we call a one-stop shop. Clients sometimes have to go to one port for cargo, another port for fuel and another port for drilling fluids, muds and other services. The movement of vessels is therefore very costly.
At La Brea, we are installing a one-stop shop, where we invest in fuel and water storage and distribution, as well as certain capacity for drilling fluids and other services. When a client comes to La Brea, they can get everything they need and then go straight to the site.
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