FMC signs Sonatrach SPM contract

20 December 2002

The US' FMC Technologieshas been awarded a $239 million contract to develop five offshore loading stations for state energy company Sonatrach. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, which was signed in Algiers on 14 December, will double the capacity of the country's oil export facilities to about 220 million tonnes a year (t/y).

The contract involves the supply of five deep-water single point moorings (SPMs) and onshore and offshore facilities, including metering and pumping stations. The SPMs will have a minimum depth of 40 metres, with each sea-line having an estimated capacity of 20 million-26 million t/y, depending on the pumping system of the individual tankers. The total cost of each platform is $47 million.

FMC has announced that it will subcontract part of the work to Houston-based engineering and project management company OPE. OPE will assume responsibility for a $120 million package, involving the design, supply and installation of the pipeline and onshore facilities. Construction of the new units will start in early 2003 and is expected to take 24 months to complete.

Two of the new SPMs will be installed outside the main hydrocarbons export terminal at Arzew and a further two off the eastern port of Skikda. The fifth platform will be located near the port of Bejaia, where the OB1 pipeline from Beni Manssour terminates. The SPMs will increase the flexibility of Algeria's export capability, allowing tankers with capacity of up to 320,000 dwt to dock, regardless of weather conditions.

The award follows news in early December that dredging work at Skikda, the country's second largest crude oil export facility, had failed to deepen the port sufficiently to allow larger oil tankers to dock there. Despite efforts to remove an accumulation of mud in the shipping channel, a 130,000-dwt vessel was unable to berth.

Algeria is seeking to boost its export facilities in advance of new hydrocarbons capacity coming on stream. The country's existing export facilities are already having to contend with higher oil production. The country pumped an average of 955,000 barrels a day of crude oil in October, 38 per cent above its OPEC quota (MEED 8:11:02).

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