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Shipping and Logistics Opportunities in Africa’s Oil and Gas Industries

By NJ Ayuk, President, African Energy Chamber

One particular area where African companies can stand out is in shipping and logistics.

On the one hand, the demand for these services is both tremendous and inescapable. Shipping and logistics operators serve as crucial links in the oil and gas supply chain, in that they are responsible for moving goods, parts, equipment, and workers from the places where they can be picked up to the places where they are needed.

Some of these operators have found that oil and gas development can serve as the foundation of a successful business. Universal Africa Lines Alliance (UAL Alliance), for example, began delivering cargo to West Africa in 1973 and has now established itself as a stable provider of professional cargo handling services, focusing on break-bulk and project cargoes for the oil and gas industry. UAL Alliance moves cargo between the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Europe to West Africa and vice versa and also offers intra-African service on the west coast of Africa.

UAL Alliance is an international firm, but it is also firmly rooted in Africa, as it serves ports in Ghana, Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Angola. What’s more, it has also constructed the K5 Freeport & Oil Centre, its own logistics and supply base at the port of Malabo in Equatorial Guinea — and in doing so, it has helped to create additional jobs for the contractors and subcontractors that helped build the base, as well as the companies that now use the base. It has also helped sustain the African companies that have acted as its shipping agents, such as Akon-Donluis in Equatorial Guinea, Action Rapide Transit (ART) in Gabon, and Logistics Support Services (Pty) Ltd in Namibia.

Oil and gas exploration and development off the west coast of Africa has already kept UAL Alliance busy for nearly 40 years, and the company is looking to grow over the next few years. It has said it hopes eventually to set up shop in East Africa — presumably, so that it can start offering the same kind of services and support to emerging hydrocarbon producers such as Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda.

As it does, it will not only be exploring new opportunities in the region. It will also be creating new opportunities — new opportunities for local shipping agents, new opportunities for the local service providers that will build, repair, and maintain its delivery facilities and offices, and so on.

And UAL Alliance is far from the only indigenous shipping and logistics firm in Africa seeing success in the oil and gas sector. Many others were heavily represented at African Energy Week in Cape Town and some signed deals with international oil companies. A few additional examples include Nairobi-based OML Africa Logistics and Luba Freeport, which provides oilfield equipment handling and transportation in Eastern Africa; Seabird Ghana, maritime logistics and oil and gas services provider for west Africa; and Petromarine Nigeria Limited, a marine logistics services provider for Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.

Building the Right Foundation

We’re also seeing African states take proactive steps to support successful oil and gas maritime logistics operations. Look at Senegal, which is constructing a high-tech, operationally efficient “superport” near Ndayane, 50 kilometers southeast of Dakar.

The project, dubbed the “Port of the Future,” is part of the country’s energy sector expansion, launched after the discovery of approximately 450Billion cubic meters of natural gas. What’s more, Senegal is taking steps to make sure that everyday people benefit from its growing maritime infrastructure by building local capacity. Macky Sall’s Plan Senegal Emergent is specifically designed to, among other things, create opportunities for local service companies. Senegal also is fostering capacity building in maritime logistics through its National Petroleum Institute and the Dakar Business School. Aguibou Ba is the Executive Director of the Institut National du Pétrole et du Gaz (INPG), has also implemented related programmes to fast track capacity in this area through the state institute.

Another positive example is Mozambique, which is developing a national strategy for a blue economy that addresses, in addition to fishing and aquaculture, the country’s extractives and hydrocarbon sectors. The plan will also include a regional plan for maritime security. With a plan in place, hopefully followed by policies that support local entrepreneurs and capacity building, Mozambique OSPs will be in a strong position for success in maritime logistics.

The African Energy Chamber believes there are numerous opportunities available for African companies and entrepreneurs who are ready to explore the shipping and logistics sector. Now is the time to seize them.

Mercuria Wants a Share of the Suez Canal

By Mohammed Jetutu, in Cairo

Crude oil trader, Mercuria, has expressed interest in investing in the Suez Canal, the international maritime shipping lane that is a favourite of crude oil and natural gas exporters.

The 17-year-old company, with gross turnover of $116Billion and 368Million TOE (Total trading volume) in 2019, “wants to be involved in the area because it is geographically important and is one of the most promising economic regions in the world”, according to Mustafa Madbouli, Egypt’s Prime Minister.

The Suez Canal runs through Egypt, spanning north to south from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

For most of the six weeks of 2021, it has been the preferred shipping route for LNG carriers heading from the United States to East Asia and looking to avoid a highly congested Panama Canal, according to Argue Media. Shippers are finding that the shorter journey offered by Suez offsets the toll they’ll have to pay by choosing the canal over rounding the Cape of Good Hope.

Mr. Madbouli held a meeting with the Egyptian officials of the company, including Majid Shenouda, CEO of Mercuria Egypt, over the terms of Mercuria’s proposed investment. The government side at the meeting included Tariq El-Molla, Minister of Oil and Mineral Wealth, Osama Rabei, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, and Yahya Zaki, Chairman of the Suez Canal Economic Authority.

Mercuria is proposing to invest $450Million in ship supply, marine waste collection and water purification, as well as shipping services in the Suez Canal area. The company executives told the government officials that Mercuria has a timeline for implementation of no more than 36 months.

Mr. El Molla, the petroleum minster, disclosed that Mercuria had been in contact with the Ministry for some time, and there are many aspects of cooperation, especially since the oil sector in Egypt has the infrastructure, human skills and experiences that can be hired to serve all proposed projects.

At the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister directed the completion of the negotiation process with Mercuria operates in more than 50 countries around the world, with fixed asset size of up to $2.8Billion, according to its website.


Suez Canal Drops Transit Fees Further More

As the Egyptian government tries to support revenues, with the pandemic hammering trade, shippers of Liquified Petroleum Gas on the Suez Canal will continue to pay lower transit fees until June 2021.

Carriers traveling between southeast Asia and the United States have gotten breaks ranging between 24% and 75% since April, depending on their route.

The measures were introduced by the Suez Canal Authority in response to a slowdown in global trade caused by the pandemic.

The SCA has also reduced transit fees for large oil tankers traveling between northern Europe and southeast Asia by 48%.

“The authority granted discounts to shipping lines as marketing tools to attract ships that use other alternative routes”, reports Al Mal, the authoritative Egyptian newspaper. These routes are chiefly the Cape of Good Hope, and the fees are “based on a study of the costs of operating a ship’s transit voyage in the Suez Canal, compared to other alternative channels, especially since crossing these routes takes a long time without payment of Transit fees, compared with the Suez Canal “, Al Mal reports.

Anchor Handling Tug Supply is Most Widely Used Vessel in Nigerian Offshore Oil Industry

By Favour Omokhaiye and Gloria Odunuyi

The Anchor-Handling Tug supply (AHTS) vessels constitute the largest segment of the offshore support vessel market, by type, in use by oil companies operating in Nigerian waters in the months of April and May 2020.

Nine indigenous and international oil companies working offshore utilised 150 vessels, of twenty types for various operations in the months under review.

Chevron used the largest number and the most diverse of vessel types, followed by ExxonMobil and Shell.

AHTS vessels are designed to provide anchor-handling and towage services and are also used for supplying deck cargo, water, fuel, dry bulk, and mud-to-oil rigs and platforms.

These vessels can also be used for emergencies and are well equipped for firefighting, rescue, and oil recovery operations.

But while they have high utility value, AHTS are not necessarily the most sophisticated. The Multifunctional Support Vessel, for example, has the capacity for deploying robots and divers into deep offshore, to perform field optimisation tasks in deepwater reservoirs.

Other Offshore Vessels (OSSVs) in use during the period were platform supply vessels (PSV), anchor handling tugs, utility workboat vessels, research vessels, emergency response and rescue vessels (ERRV), accommodation barges, cable/umbilicals flowline lay vessels and crew boats.

Also referred as vessels are Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO), Jack up drilling rigs and Self elevating Install Barge, The nine companies which utilised the 150 vessels during the months are: Addax, Amni International, Chevron, Dangote, ExxonMobil, First E&P, NPDC, Shell and TOTAL.

Omokhaiye and Odu are covering the maritime issues and the gas market for Africa Oil+Gas Report.


Sasol Gives South Africa Its First Flagged Chemical Vessel

The synfuels giant Sasol, has funded South Africa’s first locally-owned chemical maritime vessel through the Sasol Siyakha Trust, an instrument it uses to empower the country’s black owned enterprises.

The company, one of the top three on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, funded Nduna Maritime with $27Million as an enterprise and supplier development (ESD) vehicle. This is Sasol Siyakha’s single largest funding agreement to date.

The specialised chemical tanker, named Bow Cecil, is the very first Republic of South Africa flagged vessel that will transport chemicals to international markets registered to carry the South African flag.

The 37 000 dwt vessel, equipped with 47 tanks, was acquired from Odfjell Chemical Tankers AS. The vessel called on the Port of Durban on 01 August 2019 for its inaugural load.

The tanker was built in 1998 by STX Norway Floro and was formerly known as 5W Cecil. Until Nduna Maritime bought it, it was sailing under the flag of Norway.

“We are particularly proud of this landmark agreement, as it is a significant investment into localising and diversifying our supply chain. As a global producer of a number of chemical products, we supply numerous markets around the world with products made in South Africa. Through Nduna Maritime, we are extending our value chain participation through a wholly owned South African business,” said Vuyo Kahla, Executive Vice President: Advisory, Assurance and Supply Chain, Sasol Limited.

Sasol spends approximately $125Million a year on shipping from South Africa to global markets. As the owner of Bow Cecil, Nduna Maritime will leverage this asset to increase its capacity to ship more chemical products to markets concentrated in Asia.



Naval Chiefs To Assemble in Accra For Gulf of Guinea Issues

The Ghanaian Navy will host over 10 Chiefs of Navies from across Africa along with 250 international senior officials from Navies, Coast Guards and Marine Police from Wednesday next week.

They will be addressing security issues around the increasingly volatile marine and coastal waters in Africa as well as maritime contributions to economic advancement in the crucial Gulf of Guinea.

Ghana is becoming increasingly important as a crude oil export source as well as consumer of natural gas, some of which is pumped undersea through pipeline.

Nigeria has been notorious for crude oil induced piracy.

Virtually all of the countries along the West African coast experience Piracy, illegal fishing, and armed robberies on the Atlantic.

These issues are just some of those to be discussed at the International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference (IMDEC), taking place on 24-25 July 2019 in Accra, Ghana. “These threats not only disrupt regional stability but also hinder the thriving of the economies”, according to Future Banking Tech, the summit’s organisers. “It is essential that international and intergovernmental players continue to build upon joint capabilities to alter this progression.

IMDEC’s ribbon cutting ceremony will be attended by Mahamudu Bawumia (Dr.),  Ghana’s Vice President, , as well as Aduna Bingab Nitiwul, the host country’s Minister of Defence, Ghana, Lt. Gen. Obed Akwa, Chief of Defence Staff, Ghana Armed Forces, Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, Chief of Naval Staff, Ghana Navy, Air Vice Marshal F Hanson, Chief of Air Staff. according to the organisers of the event.

Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, Chief of Naval Staff, Ghana Navy, will present the Opening keynote speech, titled: Ghana Navy – past, present and the future. Followed by a panel discussion titledMaritime Forces: Joint Operations and strengthening interoperability. The discussion will be moderated followed by a VIP exhibition tour and a an awards of appreciation will be presented to VIP attendees.


LNG Barge Under Construction in Durban, South Africa

The first steel plate was cut for the construction of an LNG barge vessel at the Southern African Shipyards (SAS) in Durban’s Bayhead several weeks ago.

The 143m long and 34m wide vessel will be the only one of its kind in the world, according to Aldworth  Mbalati, CEO of DNG Energy, the owner of the vessel. It will be christened “DNG Genesis”.

The barge is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. It will have a crew of 40, when it is in operation.

DNG Energy is planning to invest more than $5Billion in creating a Pan African LNG supply network over the next five years, Mr. Mbalati, claims. It is an ambitious plan which will mean work for thousands of people. It would be an 8 000 ton energy barge, the largest vessel by weight ever to be built in Africa, the CEO explains.

The company has a floating storage terminal and the idea is that LNG from exporting countries will be stored at the terminal and then offloaded onto the Durban-made barge which “as the work horse” will operate in Southern Africa waters, transporting energy to customers in South African and the member states of Southern Africa Development Community SADC.

The exact location of the floating storage terminal-which is currently in operations internationally-will only be unveiled at the launch in March 2019, Mbalati said.

One ranking VIP at the steel cutting ceremony was British veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Lord Peter Hain, who is one of DNG Energy’s company’s non-executive directors. Lord Hain is a former British Minister of State for Energy and Competitiveness in Europe.

Mbalati argues that LNG will dramatically improve the economy, reasoning that if SA Inc. stops the large spend on importing refined fuel, the (local currency rand will grow stronger and the country’s GDP will improve.


Hyundai Heavy Industries, Close To Take Over of Daewoo Shipbuilding

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Group has signed a definitive agreement with state owned Korea Development Bank (KDB) to acquire Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).

HHI is the world’s largest shipbuilding company. Its headquarters are in Ulsan, South Korea. HHI was founded in 1972 by Chung Ju-yung as a division of the Hyundai Group, and in 1974, completed building its first ships

The definitive agreement builds on the heads of agreement (HoA) that was signed between HHI and KDB on 31 January this year. It will see KDB will make a contribution-in-kind to Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE, named tentatively), to be established as a sub-holding company spun off from HHI to control the group’s shipbuilding companies including HHI, by transferring its shares in DSME in return for an equity stake in KSOE.

The definitive agreement states, amongst other things, that HHI and KDB will perform due diligence of DSME and HHI, respectively; the two parties will exercise their best efforts to complete the transaction unless the due diligence reveals a fact or matter that would have a material adverse effect on either of the target companies; and the parties will commit no unlawful act that would adversely affect the standalone business operations of HHI and DSME until the acquisition is officially authorised by the government authorities, According to the statement,.

HHI and KDB also pledge to guarantee employment security of DSME workers and continued relationships with DSME’s current business partners. The two parties are entering into this agreement “with an ultimate aim of stimulating employment and revitalising the local economy”, they jointly state, promising to maintain the current management structure of DSME, keep employment of DSME’s workers secure and continue the business relationships with the existing subcontractors and suppliers of DSME.

“HHI Group’s post-acquisition strategy is, to have its four shipyards, which would now include DSME as the latest addition to the group’s portfolio of shipbuilding business, focused on design, manufacturing and sales activities, which will be controlled by KSOE specialised in R&D and engineering, with a view to taking HHI Group’s competitiveness to the next level,” declared Kwon Oh-gap, Vice Chairman and CEO of HHI Holdings,


South Africa About To Get its First Offshore Oil and Gas Services Base

Odion Max John, in Cape Town

South Africa’s National Ports Authority (TNPA) has selected a private port terminal operator to build and operate the country’s first offshore supply base (OSSB) at the Port of Saldanha, in the Western Cape.

SA’s first dedicated and customised facility supporting offshore oil and gas is to be developed by Saldehco, a South African company comprising principal shareholder HARPS Holdings Pte Limited and local partner Semona Pty Limited.

The facility, which will involve investments of some $150Million over the coming five years, will provide services to offshore oil and gas companies operating along Africa’s coastline.

Saldehco was selected following a competitive bidding process conducted by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), which is mandated to concession port terminals to private operators in line with Section 56 of the National Ports Act.
Its two partners- HARPS- has energy, property and marine interests in several countries, and -Semona Pty- is black-women-owned energy company.

As port landlord and planner, TNPA is providing berth infrastructure for the OSSB at the port’s general maintenance quay. Saldehco, meanwhile, is responsible for providing warehousing, workshops, office facilities, as well as equipment such as cranes and other rubber-tyred equipment to operate the terminal.

The OSSB will offer services to vessels supporting offshore exploration and production activities, including fabrication of offshore structures, as well as provision of marine bunkers and lubricants.

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