December 2020

Enabling Africa

The year 2020 has put breaks on too many global operations; but MDL's VP Africa Michael Blease-Shepley is determined to see his region continue to grow.

While I have only joined MDL earlier this year, it feels like so much has happened in that time - ironically, in a world that is constantly being forced into lockdown.

After supporting MDL’s existing opportunities in the West African region from the constraint (and, admittedly, comfort!) of my home office, I took the trip to the continent at the first possible opportunity, to be closer to our clients and operations on the ground - even if most meetings were still held over a video call.

West Africa has been my second home for more than a decade now, while I have worked for international and local installation contractors and vessel owners. I believe in being close to the operations and to clients’ project teams, to support them at the earlier stage of their awarded projects - and, by providing market intel directly from the source, supporting their longer-term strategies for West Africa.

MDL’s strategy has always been to enable client teams globally to perform challenging projects against the constraints they are facing (most notably with tight schedules and with limited budgets), but without compromising on safety or quality of execution. A key element of this strategy is having a local presence.

Traditionally, West Africa has been an unknown quantity for many equipment suppliers, because a lot of the equipment is mobilised in Europe. However, the “perfect storm” created by the low oil price, limited clarity in the market, and the COVID-related restrictions makes it an extremely difficult time for operators and installation contractors to access the right solutions to bring their wells online.

That is why MDL felt it necessary to have a local, regional solution, to enable flexible installation and tie-in scopes in the West African basin.

If you’re a company that has a vessel located in West Africa - or has access to a vessel in the region - it is easy to mobilise an MDL flex-lay spread on board, from the quayside or via sea cargo between the different West African Countries.

By doing this, you can have significant cost savings versus? mobilising a spread on a vessel from Europe, in which you have to account for schedules and availability, vessel day rate, fuel costs etc.

Above that, there are significant savings in mobilising and demobbing of the equipment on the vessel, thanks to MDL’s portable design. The systems forming an MDL spread are all modular and can be quickly lifted on board and integrated, due to the well thought-out equipment design and sea-fastening solutions, latest software developed in-house, and expert offshore personnel who know the equipment inside out.

MDL operates a modern fleet, with all assets less than 7 years old, which is reflected in the quality of equipment, its efficient handling and increased safety of operations with modern solutions like the tensioner fail-safe grip systems.

With our horizontal lay spreads we can install flexible products up to 150-tonne tension, which lends itself perfectly to the West African basin and its shallow-water flexible lay scopes or deep-water umbilical installations, as well as telecommunication cables or even decommissioning scopes - in many cases avoiding the requirement for bringing in a specialist VLS solution.

We have expertise in and understand the challenges of moving equipment - between vessels and regions - to help customers deliver successful projects. My career to date has been all about moving equipment and vessels around the world to deliver complex flex-lay installation projects. Now, empowered with MDL’s cost-saving technology present in the West African basin, I can help clients capitalise on their operations - even in such challenging circumstances as we’re facing today.

To that end, I am pleased to confirm MDL’s partnership with Africa Diving Services - a fully indigenous Nigerian company, with whom we firmly establish our commitment to the Nigerian market with a local entity.

Paul Stansfield – GM Africa Diving Services, has commented on the partnership: “African Diving Services are pleased to be associated with MDL on this exciting venture with the two companies mutually supporting each other. This offers complimentary services to the Nigerian Oil and Gas sector where clients can take comfort in the fact that the whole process can be packaged as one giving easier project management, added flexibility and therefore economic streamlining to the project.“

I plan to share more details in the coming months regarding other MDL partnerships in the region, as we are due to operate two complete MDL pipelay spreads in the West African basin. I look forward to sharing more details on these with you in due course. In the meantime, I am keen to understand how MDL back deck spreads can help progress your installation campaigns in West Africa? Let’s discuss.