Dipendenti Eni in Africa

Africa: a whole host of records

From offshore Angola to Ghana and on to Mozambique. Large deposits and large ships to more quickly to convert these deposits into power for the world.

by Marilia Cioni
24 March 2017
7 min read
by Marilia Cioni
24 March 2017
7 min read

Angola: 450 million barrels of oil in the middle of the ocean

In the far north of Angola, where the Congo River meets the Atlantic Ocean, there is a town called Soyo, where Portuguese caravels landed in the late 15th century, chose it as their outpost and christened it Sonho, meaning ‘dream’ in English. And that is precisely the impression you get flying over the coast between Luanda and Soyo - endless beaches of white sand and dense green forest, exactly the same landscape that navigator Diogo Cão saw in 1482.
The Soyo of today is a rapidly growing town, the major oil discoveries being made off its coast guaranteeing its major logistical support role where Angolan and international operators are concerned. 60km from here, out in the deep, open seas surrounding block 15/06, Eni has discovered 450 million barrels’ worth of oil.

Dipendenti Eni sul blocco 15/06 - Africa

First for exploration, first for development

A relinquishment that others had explored without success and that Eni was able to transform into an exploratory success, bringing it into production in the space of just 3 years - “a world record in terms of time, speed and performance”, in the words of CEO Claudio Descalzi. “This was the first implementation of a completely new model that led to us leading the field in exploration and now also in development. We adopted a very aggressive exploratory approach whilst at the same time starting work on the design and development stage. We were already working on development whilst still finding oil, and putting fields into production whilst still undertaking exploratory activities and continuing to undertake near field exploratory operations for future developments. We consequently reduced both time frames and idle capital and in doing so *pre-empted* both the start-up and the cash flow”.
The 15/06 block spans several fields, those of the West Hub having been brought into production in 2014 with FPSO N'Goma. FPSOs (Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading units) are a very specific type of ship that is vital for extracting and transporting hydrocarbons. Production at the East Hub began in February 2017 with the arrival from Singapore of FPSO Olombendo - the ship that produces, processes, stores and distributes oil and also holds the record for size, capacity, complexity and speed of construction. “The Olombendo took 16 months to design, amounting to over a million hours of engineering”, explains Luca Faccenda, FPSO Manager at Eni Angola, who has been with the group for 10 years. “Over 500 engineers were involved in the different packages relating to the various components of the ship and at peak times there were some 4,000 people working at the shipyard at a time”.
What makes this FPSO unique is its imposing turret - the cantilever turret - incorporated into the bow of the ship, which allows the FPSO to rotate on itself to adjust the position of the ship to reflect the current without moving the chains that anchor the ship or the flexible risers through which the oil and gas pass. “This is the largest, tallest and heaviest outer turret ever built”, he explains, “reaching a height of 65m and weighing in at 5,000 tonnes. It is also one of the most important systems because it is here that the production fluids transferred from the subsea system to the surface treatment systems are delivered, but it also endures the highest levels of structural stress since it absorbs and transmits the loads to the chains and to the ground”.

L' AD di Eni visita la FPSO Olombendo in Africa

Eni's CEO, Claudio Descalzi, visits FPSO Olombendo

A combination of a tanker and a 333-metre platform in Ghana

From Angola we move on to Ghana - still on the Atlantic coast but some way further north. We operate a large FPSO here known as the Kufuor, named after John Agyekum Kufuor - the Ghanaian President who relaunched the exploration sector and in 2001 granted the license for the field in which the ship will operate. Current first lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo is patron of the unit. FPSO Kufuor was born in Singapore of a collaboration between Eni, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Vitol and Yinson and created in record time, taking only 24 months to build - the best result for Eni and a benchmark for the sector. From Singapore it will leave for Ghana’s offshore field where it will produce not only oil but more importantly gas that will fuel local power plants for at least 15 years, making a rather significant contribution to the country’s development. The World Bank has also classified the project as being of top priority since the certainty of long-term gas supplies will allow Ghana to fuel thermoelectric power plants that will in turn accelerate industrial development. More stable electricity production will, of course, mean better living standards for the population and greater opportunities for growth and development.
President Kufuor is known as the ‘Gentle Giant’ - a nickname that is also very befitting of the FPSO. At 333m long and 58m wide (basically three football pitches laid end to end), the FPSO weighs in at 69,000 tonnes but is designed so as to minimise its environmental impact. Some of the gas extracted from the deposits will be used on the ship itself, which is self-sufficient in terms of energy, with three huge turbines providing the energy needed to power all of the onboard systems and operating the relevant pumps, gas compressors and export and offloading systems that make FPSO Kufuor an extraordinarily versatile combination of a tanker and a platform. From Singapore, FPSO Kufuor will ‘return home’, to use Umberto Carrara's words once again - this ‘home’ being in the middle of the sea, where it will remain for the next 15, maybe 20 years.

From Korea to Mozambique, a major Eni company

The ‘first steel cut’ was made to the hull of the Coral Sul FLNG - the ship that will allow us to start producing and monetising the huge reserves of gas discovered by Eni in offshore Mozambique - on 6 September 2018 in Geoje, South Korea, at the shipyards of Samsung Heavy Industries - one of the most important shipyards and offshore facilities in the world. We are talking about fields that contain some 85 trillion ft3 of gas - the sort of volume that will allow the country to become one of the world’s leading producers of gas. Coral Sul FLNG will contain a gas treatment and liquefaction plant for LNG, large tanks for storing it and an advanced system for loading it onto ships that will then transport it across the world's oceans to its final destination. All of this technology and the men who will be working on it will help to make Mozambican gas available on the global market as of 2022.

Giacimento petrolifero Eni in Africa

The floating gas liquefaction unit (FLNG) known as Coral Sul

Bringing Mozambican gas to the world

The decision to develop the Coral field with a floating liquefaction (Floating LNG or FLNG) plant was based on the characteristics and location of the field. Indeed, as Project Director for the Coral South Development Stefano Rovelli explains, “this technology is appropriate to contexts in which the transportation of gas to land is problematic, whether in terms of the distance from the shore or the characteristics of the ocean floor. At the same time, it needs deposits that will ensure a constant supply of power for 25 or 30 years, as is the case with the Coral field.
All of this technology and the men who will be working on it will help to make Mozambican gas available on the global market as of 2022.