Octomar is one of the leading diving companies in Angola, having executed long term subsea inspection, repairs and maintenance contracts for 11 years. Octomar Managing Director, Luís Lago de Carvalho, spoke to Africa Energy Series – Angola about adopting local content policies.
Which maritime and logistics services comprise Octomar’s core business?
Octomar started as a diving contractor and a joint venture with a South African company, which was subsequently bought by a Dutch company. Today, Octomar is 100 percent Angola-owned and diving remains our core activity. We have ongoing diving contracts with Total and own four air dive spreads. We have been involved in the installation of almost all of the floating production storage and offloading units that are operating in the country today. That is our core competency, but over time, we have branched into other activities, namely installation, maintenance, and repair, which cover the management of the whole terminal. This includes support tugs for the loading operations, pilots, mooring masters, including a diving team for maintenance of buoys, swim services and the handling of floating hoses.
We have also diversified into offshore support vessels mostly supplied by third parties and have recently acquired our first multi-purpose crew boat, which is currently working for Total. It has a mixed duty of crewing and diving activities and can also do safety and security duties around the blocks where it operates. We have also done transportation of aggregate for the construction of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Soyo using barges and tugs. Today, we have two big AHTs with Eni operating on a long-term contract for the support of their offshore operations. We also have a contract with Total for the maintenance of all of their oil spill response equipment, offshore and onshore.
How has Octomar been uniquely able to invest in the local workforce?
We have trained approximately 25 Angolan divers to Class II IMCA standards, which is the international code of practice for offshore diving. This was our policy from the beginning. For 12 to 14 years, we had a contract with Chevron in the offshore Malongo field for all of their diving activities. In that contract, we had agreed to have a specific position for learner divers and were able to rotate a lot of new divers through that contract supported by Chevron. All of our divers are very experienced in that they are in the field for about six months to a year gaining practical experience and knowledge about the equipment and installations before they go onto a training facility to get certified. Today, there are divers who come out of the certification having never been on an oil platform. That is not the case with our divers.
We have also recently started planning to enter into other markets. This is not only because we believe that we have the quality and capacity to go to other regions, but also because we have been asked by our clients to do so. Mozambique is a big possibility. Very few service providers, in our line of work, have been there. We have the know-how and the language advantage, and we are already looking at developing Mozambican divers. Secondly, we are looking at neighboring countries. We have done work in Angola in which we fully mobilized, prepared and fabricated out of Pointe-Noire, so serving the Congo region would not be a problem for us. Namibia is also starting to drill now. It is stable and has a lot of resources, but in terms of certification and qualifications to service the oil and gas industry, most of the companies do not have that because they have not needed it in the past. We have been operating in the offshore oil and gas industry for 20 years, and that counts for a lot when tendering for jobs.