A Boost for Africa’s P&A Market

Despite Africa not being a top contender in the global decommissioning market, the region holds huge potential for growth as more offshore old and gas fields mature while some of the newly drilled ones turn dry.

The region’s top oil and gas producers such as Angola, Nigeria have previously reported an increase in the number of maturing producing fields that have triggered reduction in output.

For example, in Angola, Mineral Resources and Petroleum minister Diamantino Azevedo said recently if the country “does not conduct the exploration works and finds new reserves, we will not be able to maintain the current levels of production.”

“We have to work on the perspective of finding new oilfields to sustain the desired production, based on the goals set by the government,” he told participants at the 2019 Angola Oil & Gas forum in the country’s capital Luanda.

Maturing oil and gas fields and unsuccessful well drilling will continue to drive the plug and abandonment market in Africa even as the region still grapples with structured decommissioning legislation.

Although no precise data is immediately available on the status of Africa’s plugging and abandonment market, a few contracts awarded recently is an indication of the investment potential in the region’s subsea plug and abandon space.

International oilfield services company Expro has become the latest offshore plug and abandonment contractor to join the growing list of international subsea expert firms that are eager to take advantage of available investment opportunities in shallow, deep and ultra-deep oil and gas fields in Africa.

This week Expro was awarded a contract by Luxembourg-based offshore ultra-deepwater drilling company, Pacific Drilling LLC’s subsidiary, Pacific Santa Ana Ltd, for the provision of an Intervention Riser System (IRS) for the Petronas-owned and operated Chinguetti Field Phase II’s plug and abandonment work offshore Mauritania.

Chinguetti is known for being one of the three mains gas discoveries in Block 4 off the coast of Mauritania. Initially the asset was operated by Woodside Mauritania for AGIP/Eni, Hardman Petroleum, Fusion Oil and Gas, Premier Oil and Roc Oil until 2007 when Petronas became the new owner and operator.

Expro said the contract, to be executed in 360 days, is worth $20 million with the company expected to provide “its IRS system with associated surface support equipment, to be deployed from Pacific Drilling’s drillship, Pacific Santa Ana.”

“Worldwide Oilfield Machine (WOM) will support Expro with the provision of the subsea well access system and technical support team,” Expro said in a statement.

According to Expro, “the IRS safely establishes and maintains well access throughout riser to surface operations, replicating the functionality of the blow-out preventer and providing a safe and reliable means of well control, connected directly to the production tree.”

“With increased coiled tubing cutting and disconnect capability, the IRS system provides an alternative dual barrier, through-tubing system,” explained Expro.

The contract also entails the supply of a range of services, including the subsea well access system, lubricator valve, surface flowhead, umbilicals, topsides control equipment and installation and workover control system package according to Expro’s statement.

“Following the recent news that we have expanded our subsea intervention capabilities with two new well access solutions, we’re delighted to announce this significant contract award,” said Colin Mackenzie, Expro’s Subsea Vice President.

“This contract allows Expro to continue to expand our service offering to clients, and provide well access through our existing landing string technology, or now through-riser or riserless systems,” he added.

Colin expressed optimism Expro’s technology and services “will enhance the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the field P&A process from their high specification drillship.”

For Pacific Drilling, which has previously reiterated its desire to be the global industry’s “preferred high-specification, deepwater drilling contractor,” the Mauritania offshore contract comes months after the earlier assignment with Total E&P Senegal in Senegal and which it said triggered an increase in its operating expenses for the first quarter of 2019 to $52.3 million up from $44.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The Pacific Santa Ana, which has previously been assigned for the Senegal contract and will be involved in the new assignment in Mauritania, is a Samsung 12000 designed vessel with capability to operate in 12,000 feet water depth, according to Pacific Drilling.

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