Subsea projects going on: where and who

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HOUSTON — Low oil and gas prices and other economic uncertainties may put a slight damper on the amount of subsea installation activity planned or underway worldwide. At present, 317 subsea projects are known to be underway from now through 2013 and beyond, compared to 321 reported in October 2008.

However, according to a February report from analysts Infield, global spending on the subsea sector through 2013 is expected to exceed US$80 billion. This would be an increase over the US$46 billion spent on subsea equipment, drilling and completion over the previous five years.  Infield expects 3,222 trees to be installed over the next five years, with the biggest players being Petrobras, Shell, Total, Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil and StatoilHydro. Infield’s analysts anticipate the next two years will see a plateau of activity levels as constraints within the market are realized.

Of the projects known to be underway between now through 2013 and onwards, 78 installations are planned for 2009. Ninety-one are scheduled in 2010, 30 in 2011, 50 in 2012 and 58 scheduled in 2013 and beyond, according to data compiled by ODS-Petrodata.

Deepwater activity continues to be an important driver of subsea installations, with 111 of the known projects taking place in water depths of 3,000 feet (914 m) and above. Deepwater activity is especially prevalent in the Latin America, U.S. Gulf of Mexico and African regions.

U.S. Gulf of Mexico

In the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, 16 subsea installation projects are planned or underway for 2009, dropping to 14 in 2010, two in 2011, three in 2012 and two following that, according to data gathered by ODS-Petrodata. The majority of these are in water depths of over 3,000 feet.

FMC Technologies has received orders worth US$82 million from BP for the manufacture and supply of additional subsea systems for projects in the deepwater U.S.Gulf. The awards are call-offs from a frame agreement signed in November 2006. Under the call-offs, FMC’s scope of supply will consist of nine subsea trees including controls, an installation and workover control system and other related equipment. All equipment will be designed and manufactured at FMC’s Houston facility. Deliveries will begin in mid-2009 and will continue through 2011.

Saipem America has been awarded the Don Larsen/Drysdale No. 2 offshore installation project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The project, on which work has already begun, includes the offshore installation of the jumpers, subsea distribution unit, flying leads and relocation of the Drysdale step-out umbilical for the Don Larsen well and Drysdale No. 2 well for Anadarko Petroleum.

The Don Larsen well is on East Breaks Block 598 in around 3,555 feet (1,083 m) of water. The Drysdale No. 2 well is on East Breaks Block 599 in around 3,230 feet (985 m) of water.

Saipem America has also been awarded pre-commissioning, commissioning and jumper metrology work for an undisclosed contractor in the Gulf of Mexico. This project is estimated to start in early May and take around 45 days to complete. For both projects, Saipem America will use the Hornbeck Offshore offshore/ROV support vessel HOS Mystique.

North and Latin America

In North America, excluding the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, only two other subsea projects are planned or underway this year, both in Canada. Canada also has one subsea project in 2010, one in 2012 and one beyond that.

In the Latin America region, including Mexico, there are 12 subsea projects expected to be installed this year and a total of 45 subsea projects from 2009 to 2013. Around 35 of these projects are in water depths of over 3,000 feet.

DOF Subsea was awarded a US$6.3 million contract by Encana Corp. to provide specialist subsea services from multipurpose support vessel Skandi Bergen on the Deep Panuke project offshore Nova Scotia, Canada. The scope of work, managed by DOF Subsea Canada, included the removal of sections of decommissioned cables and flowlines, pre-lay survey and wellhead measurement.

VetcoGray signed a four year frame agreement with OGX Petroleo e Gas to supply subsea wellhead systems and casing strings for an exploratory drilling campaign offshore Brazil.

The frame agreement with OGX covers the supply of MS-700 and MS-800 subsea wellhead systems, including large bore casing strings, associated rental tools and onshore and offshore assistance during the entire drilling campaign. The order for the initial six wells already has been placed and first delivery is planned for July 2009. The wellheads will be manufactured at VetcoGray’s Jandira Plant in Sao Paulo state, Brazil and the casing strings package will be fabricated at the service center in Macae, Rio de Janeiro state.

Marine contractor Cal Dive International was awarded a contract by Pemex Exploracion y Produccion for the installation of 13.9 kilometers (8.6 miles) of 20-inch subsea pipeline in the Litoral Tabasco field offshore Mexico. Construction is expected to begin this month.

Northwest Europe

Northwest Europe remains the most active area for subsea projects, with 28 underway in 2009, 29 scheduled for 2010, 23 for 2011 and eight more from 2013 and onwards, totaling 88 planned or underway. The known projects in Northwest Europe are mainly in water depths of 1,500 feet or less, according to information gathered by ODS-Petrodata.

Grenland Group delivered four large subsea structures for StatoilHydro’s Vega and Troll fields from its yard in Tønsberg, Norway.

The three Vega subsea structures are being tied in with StatoilHydro’s Gjøa field that will come on stream next year. The Troll O2 system will be tied back to the Troll C platform, and is expected to increase recoverable reserves by 20 million barrels of oil.

GE Oil & Gas has been awarded a five-year contract to deliver subsea operations services to StatoilHydro. The contract has an estimated value of US$25 million to US$30 million per year and will be managed by GE Oil & Gas in Dusavik, Stavanger, Norway.

The scope of services to be provided under the agreement relates mainly to the installation and operations phases of StatoilHydro’s subsea fields, including engineering, procurement, the production of equipment and tools, and electro and mechanical workshop services for corrective and planned maintenance in subsea drilling.

Africa

South and West Africa have a total of 54 subsea projects planned or underway from 2009 to 2013 and onwards. Nine of these projects are set to be installed this year. A total of 35 are in water depths of over 3,000 feet.

FMC Technologies signed a US$80 million contract with BP for the manufacture and supply of additional subsea equipment for ongoing deepwater projects offshore Angola. FMC’s scope of supply includes six subsea trees, control systems, wellheads, tubing hangers, well jumpers and flow bases. The equipment will be manufactured at FMC’s Kongsberg, Norway, and Dunfermline, Scotland, facilities and be delivered in 2009.

Earlier in the year, FMC Technologies signed a US$140 million contract with BP for the manufacture and supply of subsea equipment for the BP and Sonangol Sinopec International Block 18 field development offshore Angola. FMC’s scope of supply included one gas export regulation manifold, foundations and controls, a pressure protection system, chokes and two pipeline end manifolds.

Asia and Australia

In Australia/New Zealand, four projects are underway in 2009. Another 13 are expected next year, with a further 15 expected by 2013 and onwards. In the Far East, one subsea project is expected in 2009 and one  in 2012.

In Southeast Asia, one subsea project is underway for 2009, with 18 more to follow over the next several years. In the Indian Ocean, a total of 10 subsea installation projects are planned or underway.

Aker Solutions, through its subsidiary Aker Installation FP AS, signed a change order to an existing contract with India-based Reliance Industries Ltd. for the transportation, installation and commissioning of the second phase of Reliance’s MA-D6 subsea development, including the gas export system and production wells. The change order value is approximately US$235 million.

In 2007, Aker signed a contract for the delivery of a complete subsea production system, including umbilicals, to Reliance’s fast-track MA-D6 development. Aker managed the first phase of the subsea installation of the field. The MA-D6 field, in the Bay of Bengal, produced first oil on Sept. 17 2008. The second phase of the installation is scheduled for completion by the second quarter of 2009.

China Offshore Oilfield Engineering Company, through Bluewhale Offshore Engineering Technology, extended its work with Trico Marine Services subsidiary CTC Marine in China with two more projects, ploughing work on the LeDong project and inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) and installation and construction support. These projects represent around US$38 million in value.

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