Lagos — This Friday morning, locked in a meeting inside the Executive Lounge of Aero Contractors Terminal building in Ikeja, Lagos are top shots of the oil and gas industry. This meeting venue is some 40 kilometres away from their high brow offices on Lagos Island. Yet these company chieftains went into this meeting, oblivious of the absence of the coziness which their offices usually provide.
In attendance were Engineer S. Akin Adetunji, the quiet boss of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), an arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) charged with overseeing upstream activities in the country, sitting at the head of a table, which had Georges Buressi the new boss of Elf Petroleum (a subsidiary of the TotalFinalElf) Nigeria Limited, Engr. C. Oguenwonyi, NAPIMS' GM, Operations, Bertrand Huet, Globestar Nigeria Limited's MD, who is leading other top shots of Stolt Offshore and Globestar Nigeria Limited. For them all, this meeting, a precursor to a day-long event slated for Warri, one hour flight from Lagos, is a deed that must be done.
The team, which included this magazine Editor as the only journalist, had been slated to fly to the Warri base of Globestar Engineering There, the first steel, signaling the beginning of the fabrication of the Amenam/Kpono well head platforms, jackets and bridges, was to be cut by the trio of Adetunji, Buresi and Stolt Offshore's (Globestar's Partner) Director of Engineering, J. Leroux. Leroux himself had earlier flown into Lagos all the way from Paris for this big project kick-off which signals a new lease of life for the company and Globestar.
But the weather had ominously halted the upbeat team as no flight could be allowed to take off. The visibility in Warri was reportedly poor. And so, from 8.00 a.m., the almost 2-hour waiting game was converted to a session of discussions on the need to deliver this job not only on schedule but possibly, under-budget. Not even the ominous delay could deter NAPIMS, Elf and the EPCI contractor, Globestar, from looking ahead with optimisim to the big ceremony ahead.
And so, as the aircraft was eventually cleared at about 10.00 a.m., the 20-man team filed into the chartered flight, led by Adetunji, Elf's MD and Management team as well as a representative of Mobil Producing, Mr. A. Lipede. Mobil is an interested party in the Amenam/Kpono field as part of it straddles Mobil's field and Elf only got the nod to develop it under the unitisation programme being encouraged by NNPC-NAPIMS to maximise the benefits of such fields.
And there in Warri, the team was received by an obviously exultant team from Globestar who ushered us into their yard, some 40 minutes away from the airport. This yard is currently seeing a level of activities which it saw last some eight years ago.
With the protocol of introducing the NNPC-NAPIMS, DPR's, Elf's, Mobil's, Stolt, Comex-Globestar's team concluded, a number of presentations followed, beginning with a message from the CEO of Elf, Mr. Buresi, followed by remarks from Mr. Adetunji, which he gave extempore but all the same to loud ovations, particularly regarding his allusion to how he had prevailed on the owners of Globestar not to pack up their cutting machines and all some eight years back when there were no jobs and they had to declare redundancies, trying to shift their gaze and engineering focus on a busier Angola.
Buresi had earlier traced the importance which his company attached to technology transfer in its operations in Nigeria, noting that "it is particularly remarkable and of significant importance that the first yard to officially commence construction activities on the project is based here in Nigeria."
Highlighting how good the project is to all the partners, NNPC-Elf and Mobil, Buressi noted that the $1.3billion project will develop a reserves of some 500 million barrels, while adding 125,000 barrels of oil per day to Nigeria's crude production.
As for Elf, it projects to double its offshore production through this field by the time it comes on stream in 2003.
Observers have noted that the Amenam/Kpono project will go down as an ambitious project; in fact, Buresi sees it as "the largest development project in the world today in the traditional shallow water environment..."
The elation shown by Adetunji and staff of the EPC contractor, Stolt Comex-Globestar, truly underscores the size and economic benefits of the project. Globestar is helping to construct and install two well head platforms, being built at its yard in Warri. Other facilities to be built at the yard are one production, compression and utilities platform. The weight of these utilities is put at some 11,000 tonnes, almost the size of a football field. There will be one living quarters to accommodate 80 people, a floating, storage and offloading terminal to handle and export about 230,000 barrels of crude per day. The field development itself entails a total of 31 wells which will be drilled beginning from early 2002. It is also designed as an environmentally friendly project at which "there will be no gas flaring under normal operating conditions for the life of the field" (Buresi's emphasis). All the associated gas is to be re-injected to avoid secondary recovery of hydrocarbon.
For Elf's Musa Kida, who is the client's (Elf's) representative on the project, the 55% local content is by the way of local Nigerian engineering input, direct employment by Globestar and the sub-contractors. According to our findings, the steel will be imported, a situation which NAPIMS' Eguenwonyi felt sad about, wondering why Nigeria's economic planners could not plan to integrate the moribund steel industry into the future requirement of the oil and gas sector.