Octomar sees new dynamics in AngolaJuly 13, 2022
Ricardo Do Amaral, general manager of Octomar, talks to The Energy Year about the company’s role in the inspection of mature assets and the scope it sees for providing decommissioning services in the market. Octomar is an Angolan diving and marine services company offering a variety of offshore tanker terminal and FPSO support services, as well as marine and subsea services and vessels.
How are the latest global dynamics affecting local oil and gas trends in Angola?
In global terms, one has to be very cautious. The current dynamics indicate that the European Union and the USA will seek to import more oil and gas from Angola and other oil and gas producing countries. The price of crude is peaking at the moment [May 2022]. Angola is probably Africa’s biggest beneficiary from the present industry dynamics. However, we still must remain cautious in the long term to see how the Chinese economy will re-emerge from the easing of the pandemic and whether the current increase in the crude price will remain sustainable, to promote long-term investments by stakeholders in the industry.
We are already seeing oil operators who have recently invested in the exploration market sector looking at expanding their drilling campaigns with the objective of developing new oil and gas producing fields to boost production. Eni’s merger with BP Angola’s operations is definitely beneficial for Angola, since it will bring more investment to increase exploration in untapped reserves and field development and improve the efficiency and integrity of their existing producing offshore assets, through inspection and maintenance of these underproducing assets. We are going to see increased production of both crude and gas from these existing producing fields.
Given the maturity of many fields and assets in Angola, what is the scope for accelerating decommissioning activities?
There is a lot of potential for decommissioning work in Angola. We know of abandonment projects just waiting for financing and execution. There are very old fields that are completely marginalised, and there’s a big market for decommissioning activities in Angola, hence the existence of opportunities for services to support decommissioning projects.
However, the challenge for the execution of these potential projects is that oil operators have been focused on cost-cutting over the last five years and on investing in production, the sustainability of infrastructure, redevelopment, and exploration drilling. There hasn’t been much focus on or investment in abandonment and decommissioning projects.
Octomar has the capability to provide services for decommissioning projects. In the past, Octomar participated in the abandonment programme of five wells for Sonangol. The plugging and abandonment of the five wells was executed with a jackup rig, and Octomar provided integrated services comprising vessels, saturation diving and ROV services to support well intervention work and rig positioning services for the jackup rig. Octomar has also provided vessels and diving services to assist with the flushing and subsea hot tapping of a crude sealine in the abandonment of the Cabeça de Cobra project for TotalEnergies in Soyo, which required the removal of a tripod and the abandonment of a crude sealine.
Tell us about your current contracts.
Octomar is busy in Block 32 with subsea inspections to assess the integrity of the two Kaombo FPSOs and respective mooring chain systems. The subsea inspection involves the provision of a large dive team, diving and subsea inspection equipment, a DP2 dive support vessel and our own dive workboat, MV Octostar. Our objective is to consolidate our relationship with Eni by increasing the scope of supply of services.
What opportunities do you see in working with Somoil*?
In 2021, we supported Somoil in the installation of five mooring systems for their fast crew vessels and the installation of a production riser offshore Block 2/05. This block is very mature, and its existing assets require significant inspection to assess their integrity and the possibility of extending their lifespan, instead of investing in new assets.
There is also the potential for new assets to be installed, to boost production and enhance the operator’s autonomy in the export of their crude production.
What kind of experience does Octomar have in environmental management?
Environmental management support services are within Octomar’s profile. Octomar has supported a few operators in Angola with oil pollution abatement activities offshore such as launching of skimmers and booms to control the spread of oil pollution contamination. We have also taken care of the maintenance and servicing of oil pollution abatement equipment owned and operated by oil operators, using our own in-house technicians with the competence and experience to service and operate these types of equipment based onshore and offshore for the oil operators. A part of this service is also to develop contingency plans for oil pollution abatement.
How can Angolan companies have a more active role in environmental management issues?
It is important that Angolan companies take the initiative to look after one of Angola’s most precious assets, the country’s environment. We also try to sensitise the communities on these matters when we are involved in such environmental management support interventions.
Octomar has embraced a new project with the support from the Ministry of Environment of Angola through a memorandum of understanding signed in 2021, to lead a project to clean up Luanda Bay and certain identified areas along the southern coast of Angola. Our responsibility will be to collect debris with a combination of vessels and specialised equipment and a workforce comprising mostly Angolan nationals.
Our principle in embracing this project was to maximise the full potential of the debris collected, by creating a supply chain for the treatment and recycling of the collected debris and the handling and packaging of the recycled materials for the manufacturing of clothes, plastics and other byproducts. This approach will create employment and generate revenue to finance the costly process of collection of the debris and clean-up of the Luanda Bay and the areas identified south of Luanda.
How do you perceive the demand for fast crew supply vessels evolving in the market?
With the new dynamics of the oil and gas industry, the increase in the price of crude and increase in demand for oil and gas, we expect an increase in demand for fast crew vessels to support the exploration, development and production sectors of the oil and gas industry. Our focus is still the fast crew supply vessel market sector because we see that this market sector fits well within the size and portfolio of our company. However, the biggest challenge is obviously to obtain cost-effective financing for newbuild vessels. Being an Angolan company, we will get support from various stakeholders if we are successful in securing a project for these vessels. We participated in tenders for very large contracts including a large fleet of fast crew supply vessels.
How important is having up-to-date certifications when aiming to expand your services regionally?
We have invested in reviewing our Integrated Management System, which is accredited by ISO 9001, edition 2015, and our objective is to obtain the accreditation for ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. This process is adding value for entering the Mozambican market and enhancing our potential in the Angolan market, where clients look for service providers with the commitment for a cleaner environment and systems in place to provide the best and safest working conditions for employees.
Octomar’s affiliate company, M-octo – Serviços Maritimos, Lda., is established in Mozambique, where we have participated in numerous prequalification and tendering processes for new contracts in a challenging environment. As a result of the latest events in 2021, the market in Mozambique shrank with the temporary exit of TotalEnergies due the insurgency problems in the north of Mozambique. However, we remain fully committed to developing M-octo to support the industry in Mozambique. We have an Angola-based experienced workforce ready to move to Mozambique and manage project teams comprising Mozambican nationals as soon as a project is secured in Mozambique.
How has the pandemic affected your long-term outlook on cost optimisation?
We have learned from this pandemic how to make our organisation more efficient and how to streamline it by maximising the efficiency of our additional support services. Normally a company puts most of its resources on the projects that bring in more revenue. We are trying to be as lean and efficient as possible in our supporting projects too, such as the Luanda Bay clean-up project, which we will develop with our existing resources without increasing our fixed costs.
*(Somoil was renamed Etu Energias in 2023)