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Discovery of PSVM oil fields

Almost sounding like a galactic mission those stellar names represent four off-shore oil fields located in the ultra deep waters of Angola. BBC Chartering has been involved in delivering critical components to this project over an 18 months timeframe, starting late 2009. Working together with Heerema and Panalpina this contract required a high degree of flexibility and the availability of appropriate tonnage over the whole contract period.

The PSVM project is one of four hub field developments located on Block 31, 249nm (400km) from Luanda and in waters ranging from 4,921 to 8,202 feet (1,500 to 2,500m) deep. Block 31 spans 1.3 million acres (5,349 km′) and was acquired in 1999. BP serves as operator of Block 31 with a 26.7% interest.

Project partners include ExxonMobil with 25%, Sonangol with 20%, Statoil with 13.33%, Marathon with 10% and TEPA with 5%. Sonangol also serves as concessionaire of the block.

The first discovery on Block 31, Plutao was drilled in September 2002 by the ‘Leiv Eiriksson’ semisub in 6,627 feet (2,020 meters) of water. Reaching a total depth of 13,357 feet (4,100 meters), the discovery well tested at a daily rate of 5,357 bpd. The second discovery made on the block in July 2003, was the Saturno oil field, also drilled by ‘Leiv Eiriksson’ in 5,919 feet (1,804 meters) of water.

Located 9 miles (14 kilometers) northeast of the Plutao well, Saturno-1 was drilled to a total depth of 15,443 feet (4,707 meters) and tested at a rate of 5,000 bpd.

In November 2003, Marte was the third discovery made on Block 31, approximately 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the previous wells. Drilled to a total depth of 13,757 feet (4,193 meters) in 6,562 feet (2,000 meters) of water, Marte-1 flowed at a rate of 5,200 bpd in tests. Drilled in June 2004 in waters measuring 6,562 feet (2,000 meters), Venus was the fourth discovery made on Block 31. Located 7 miles (11 kilometers) from Saturno, Venus encountered three oil-bearing reservoirs.


PSVM Field Development


In an effort to develop the entire block efficiently, the project development has been standardized, including the design, fabrication and commissioning. Authorized by Sonangol in July 2008, the field development plan for PSVM encompasses 48 subsea wells (including production and water- and gas-injection wells) connected to 15 manifolds, and 106 miles (170 kilometers) of flow lines and 59 miles (95 kilometers) of control umbilical linking the production to a converted FPSO.


Heerema’s assignment


For a consideration of $1 billion, Heerema Marine Contractors (HMC) was awarded the contract for the risers and production flowlines on the PSVM development.

The scope of work includes engineering, procurement, construction, installation and testing of the pipe-in-pipe production flowlines, service flowlines and vertical riser systems. HMC’s deepwater construction vessel ‘Balder’ is employed to install the subsea equipment. Steve Preston, Heerema Marine Contractor’s Executive Vice President Commercial stated: ‘Over the last five years, we built up tremendous expertise in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. With our clients new technologies were developed. Now that the development off the West African coast is booming we will be able to export this unsurpassed deepwater development expertise to this region and its local stakeholders.’ HMC sees this project being part of its strategic repositioning of the deepwater vessel ‘Balder’ to West Africa, serving deep water projects in the long term in this region. With this HMC also seeks to increase its local presence and now allows the company to contribute to sustainable Angolan development. As part of the holistic approach, HMC invests in the set-up of local offices, an Angolan marine transport company as well as an integrated marine construction support base, i.e. a multi-joint yard.

Steve Preston added: ‘This holistic approach will also stimulate the existing Angolan industry.  The majority of the onshore fabrication work will be performed by Angolan yards. This will deliver many man years of work for the existing Angolan industry.’


Close working relationship with Panalpina


Together with Panalpina, BBC Chartering was involved to secure the shipping capacity that was needed for this first field development. In more than 30 shipments BBC Chartering moved about ~200.000m′ of cargo for both Heerema and BP. The deliveries included port equipment for the marine construction support base, lots of steel and pipes, and other critical components such as inline and flowlines tee assemblies, and upper/lower riser components.

Comprehensive work was delivered by BBC Chartering documenting relevant aspects of the work to be concluded.

Corresponding to Oil & Gas standards, this included the provisioning of manuals for lashing and lifting, for weight spreading and respective risk assessments.

Panalpina delivered valuable services e.g. clearing the ships, supporting negotiations with local administrations, such as customs, port authorities, and immigration, while being charged to coordinate comprehensive logistic processes. Both companies together managed to deliver mission critical shipping services.

BBC Chartering’s Lars Schoennemann stated: ‘ In a difficult to calculate project environment it was a core challenge to deliver the required shipping capacity in time as components got decommissioned at the manufacturing yard and loading site in Flushing/Netherlands.’ Panalpina’s Head of Projects, Fred Hillebrand confirmed: ‘Due to the critical nature of these items required to securing the project progress a close collaboration between Panalpina and BBC Chartering was very important. ’ In summary, the service level provided by both companies contributed to a successful accomplishment of this assignment. Lars Schoennemann complemented the BBC Chartering team, too: ‘The close dialogue between the commercial, technical and operation people was certainly a key success factor of our project. This helped us to once again prove that flexibility and reliability are not necessarily mutually exclusive factors and can go hand-in-hand on such projects. Thank you to the whole team!‘

Future Development


Comprising four of the 16 discoveries on the highly proficient block, PSVM is the first of four planned development projects for the license. With plans for more than 150 production wells over the license, Block 31 is being developed in phases.

hree development plans should closely mirror that of PSVM (aka a subsea development linked to an FPSO), and multiple contractors on the PSVM project have been tapped for the next three projects. For example, Subsea 7 signed a contract for call-off services on all four of the developments, as well as Heerema and Halliburton.

Currently in the planning stage, the next project will incorporate the fields in the southeast area of Block 31, which include Palas, Ceres, Juno, Astraea and Hebe.

Project partners have standardized the Block 31 development concept in an effort to bring all of the fields into production more quickly. In effect, the other

Another group of fields are clustered in the northwest section of the block. These fields include Urano, Titania, Terra, Portia, Miranda and Cordelia. The 16th discovery, Dione is located in the southern section of Block 31. rf


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