Since its establishment over two decades ago, Octomar Serviços Maritimos has become a top provider of marine and subsea services to Angola’s offshore oil and gas industry. In an exclusive interview, Energy Capital & Power spoke with Luis Lago de Carvalho, Managing Director & Administrator of Octomar Serviços Marítimos, about how the company is seeking to maintain its market share and capitalize on the rebound in upstream activities.
Can you provide a brief introduction into how Octomar evolved from being a diving contractor to providing a range of FPSO support and subsea services?
We started with our own diving vessels and chartered platform supply vessels (PSVs) for diving instead of having proper diving support vessels (DSVs). This was because we had modular diving systems that we could place in vessels instead of full DSVs. Because we were going after the vessels for our own diving jobs, we started working with a few owners of PSVs and then offering the PSVs to our clients. Also, we use a lot of anchor handling tug supply vessels on installation jobs for buoys and similar activities. All of the years working with them on installation jobs brought us close, and now we offer anchor handlers for towing duties offshore. Today, we have two such vessels with Eni. We started by diversifying into areas that we had already used for diving operations, thus making it an easier and more natural progression.
What steps has Octomar taken to develop the skills of and train Angolan personnel with the right certifications for technically complex tasks like subsea work?
Octomar is a 100% Angolan company. Nevertheless, it is not an obligation because we want to be in the market. It is a natural process for us. We have a program of training underway and are continually developing divers. It starts with searching for the right candidates, of which we choose three or four per year as diving tenders. Most of the expatriate divers are fresh out of high school and go into diving. They do the course and then start going offshore. Our development program has to place them offshore several times over a one-year period before we decide to send them to the school. Then we pay for their training and certification. In terms of employing Angolans overall, we have a very localized structure, in which we have developed around 30 Class-II Angolan divers to date.
What are the key elements to ensuring optimal operations within the diverse offshore construction services that Octomar offers?
We recently established a Memorandum of Understanding with DeepOcean [Oslo-based subsea service provider]. The relationship started only on the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) side, with Octomar providing ROV services in-country. However, because DeepOcean has a very big installation and subsea engineering division, we are trying to develop those services together in Angola. On the construction side, we are working mostly under companies like Saipem and TECHNIP. It is a plus because on the specific jobs that we do, such as diving, we have a lot of experience with a very stable team. We recently adopted a lot of management systems and rules like the ISO compliances to make sure that we are not just doing the job, but doing it correctly within the needed time.
How do you see the oil and gas sector evolving now that global demand is recovering post-COVID-19? What projects is Octomar looking forward to in the future?
Octomar has been tendering for several potential projects in Mozambique, which is one of our key target markets. Mozambique is one of our first international objectives in terms of establishing ourselves outside of Angola because most of the big players there are the same companies that we work with in Angola. Some of them have told us they would like to see us there because they have worked with us in the past and know what we are capable of. Mozambique is a natural move for us. Nothing has been confirmed, yet but we are confident we will eventually get something. We want to maintain our market share and grow in Mozambique and in different areas. We have been discussing crew boats with financing entities and banks about the cost. There is one ongoing tender in particular that we would love to be able to do, as it is an area where in other countries, like Nigeria, it is almost exclusively for local companies. It could be a big step toward having more local vessels.
Lastly, we have to see if new discoveries come online because that is when services start to accelerate, especially for us. We do the inspections and maintenance and we are looking for new projects in that regard.