Global provider of integrated shipping, logistics and marine services Gulf Agency Company (GAC) is aiming to increase its involvement in Angola’s oil and gas sectors.
GAC Angola GM Michael Sturesson tells Engineering News that several major upstream projects are scheduled to start soon, which will significantly contribute to a major growth in the offshore services industry in Angola.
“Although output is expected to slow down from 2020 onwards, we believe that new opportunities will arise from ongoing exploration of the country’s deep-water and subsalt oil and gas potential.
“Further, plans to obtain new licences later this year and in 2015, including licences for onshore and deep-water resources, will help Angola to attract more investments in the oil and gas sectors,” he says.
However, he cautions that regulatory changes and political risks could potentially slow the pace of offshore activity.
Sturesson notes that key developments in Angola’s oil and gas sector include energy giant BP’s Plutao, Saturno, Venus and Marte oilfields, located about 400 km off the shore of Luanda and which are expected to reach peak production of 150 000 bbl/d by the end of the year.
Further, energy major Chevron’s Mafumeira Sul project, located 24 km off the shore of Angola’s Cabinda province, is scheduled to start production in 2016/17 once a final investment decision is made.
He highlights that GAC Angola also signed a contract recently with a major drilling company for freight movement and the clearance of cargoes.
“Some of the equipment has to be transported by road and requires border clearance. We are working closely with GAC Shipping South Africa on a daily basis for delivery of these shipments to reduce any delays,” Sturesson adds.
He points out that providing prompt and efficient services can be a serious challenge in Angola, but that GAC Angola overcomes these challenges by ensuring that all the paperwork and documentation are in order and that clients are well informed about the local authorities’ logistic requirements.
West African Operations
GAC Ghana MD Neale Proctor explains that the company established operations in Ghana in April 2012 to extend GAC’s footprint across West Africa and into countries where the GAC Group previously had no presence.
“Many customers feel comfortable using the GAC brand wherever possible. “Where GAC does not have its own operational presence, it has established close relationships with preferred subagents and network partners who were subjected to a rigorous vetting process before being approved. Customers can use these agents and partners, knowing that their interests will be looked after at all times and overseen by GAC personnel,” he emphasises.
Proctor asserts that the company’s top priority is finalising preferred subagents and network partner agreements in all countries, from Mauritania in the north to Gabon in the south, including offshore islands.
He adds that GAC also has plans to sign several new preferred sub- agents and network partner agreements by the end of this year.
However, Proctor highlights that one of the major challenges the company faces when operating in West Africa is the congestion at some ports, owing to the lack of infrastructural development at the ports, “which occasionally impacts negatively on vessel schedules”.
“Without the development of infrastructure to . . . facilitate the growth of trade in the region, congestion will increase, leading to vessels being delayed even more. Ultimately, costs will increase and all product end-users will find costs rising at a faster pace than might otherwise be expected,” he warns.
South African Operations
Since 1998, GAC Shipping South Africa has been providing standard in-port- and off-port-limits agency services at the Cape Town, Durban, Saldanha Bay and Richards Bay ports.
GAC Shipping South Africa MD David Hitchman says these services are, besides others, offshore exploration, construction and production, including anchor handling.
“Anchor-handling tug supply and utility vessels transport the supplies and personnel necessary to sustain drilling and production activities,” he adds.
Hitchman highlights that GAC Shipping South Africa often works with GAC’s logistics department on projects that require shipping and logistics support.
“An example of this was the recent handling of heavy equipment that arrived from China on board a vessel that docked at the Durban port to unload the cargo. We took care of all the agency requirements, including the discharge of the freight using the port’s floating crane.
“I believe that the outlook for the South African shipping market is a buoyant one, as the local shipping sector is well developed and is largely sound in terms of infrastructure,” Hitchman concludes.