UK firm to protect FPSO from pirate attacks

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 3 -- EOS Risk Management won a 2-year contract valued at £100,000 with a Malaysian oil and gas firm to provide security consultancy from design to delivery on a production, storage, and offloading vessel to be based in Equatorial Guinea.

"We will be designing security to deter pirate and terrorist attacks, pick up suspicious activity, and respond to potential and actual threats,” said EOS Risk Management director David Johnson.

Work for the unnamed Malaysian client involves specialist security consultancy to oversee refitting of a tanker with the necessary equipment to operate safely in the Gulf of Guinea.

The work will include security design audits, plans, armor plating, specialist radar and detection systems, and counterattack measures, together with safe areas for crews.

In September, Malaysia’s SBM Offshore Ltd. said it signed a letter of agreement with Noble Energy Ltd. for provision, lease, and operation of an FPSO for the development of the Aseng field in 1,000 m of water in Block I off Equatorial Guinea.

SBM said the FPSO, to be based on conversion of the hull of a very large crude carrier from SBM Offshore’s inventory, will serve not only the Aseng field but also establish a liquids hub for Noble Energy’s future developments in the area.

SBM said the vessel will have a processing capacity for 120,000 b/d of liquids, including 80,000 bbl of oil and injection capacity of up to 150,000 b/d of water, as well as handling 170 MMscfd of gas.

The unit will have storage capacity for 1.6 million bbl of oil including up to 500,000 bbl of condensate.

SBM Offshore said it intended to execute the contract through a joint venture established with Equatorial Guinea state oil firm GEPetrol.

The Aseng FPSO will be SBM Offshore’s second operated unit in Equatorial Guinea and its ninth operated facility off West Africa.

SBM said initial firm commitment of Noble Energy under the contract is for 15 years, commencing in 2012, with provisions for further extensions up to 5 years.

“The total undiscounted cumulative portfolio value to SBM Offshore…is approximately $1.2 billion, with the lease contract expected to qualify as a finance lease for financial reporting purposes,” the Malaysian firm said.

Pirate attacks have been frequent in the Gulf of Guinea over the past year or so. In April, Reuters reported Africa's Gulf of Guinea nations lack the ability to tackle mounting threats from piracy and kidnapping.

It said the region hosts Nigeria and Angola—Sub-Saharan Africa's two largest oil producers—Gabon, Cameroon, the two Congos, and Equatorial Guinea, an oil nation with aspirations in gas. Oil from land-locked Chad is also exported through the gulf.

Sub-Saharan Africa produced more than 9 million b/d of oil in 2008 with the Gulf of Guinea nations accounting for nearly 5 million b/d of the total. The region will provide 25% of US oil by 2015, according to the US National Intelligence Council.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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