Africa’s Strongest Crane Gets to Grips With Angola Oil Projects

Workers in Angola are completing construction of the strongest crane in Africa that will be used at offshore projects for Chevron Corp., Total SA, and SBM Offshore NV.

The fabrication yard of Paenal Porto Amboim Estaleiros Navais at Porto Aboim, about 260 kilometers (162 miles) south of the capital, Luanda, is expected to complete the crane with a capacity to lift 2,500 metric tons next month, Managing Director Cesar Guerra said in a telephone interview on May 13.

“The crane will be ready by mid-June,” Guerra said. “It will work on the FPSO for Total’s Clov project, N’Goma for SBM and Mafumeira for Chevron,” he said, referring to floating production storage and offloading vessels for the respective French and Dutch companies, and the U.S. company’s most expensive project in Africa.

Angola, Africa’s largest crude oil producer after Nigeria, pumped 1.8 million barrels a day in April and state petroleum company Sonangol EP targets 2 million barrels a day by 2017. The southern African country’s crude accounted for 2.6 percent of U.S. imports in February and 12 percent of China’s in March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Paris-based Total’s Clov project may start pumping crude next year from Block 17. Paenal will upgrade SBM’s FPSO Xikomba that was used by Exxon Mobil Corp. and rename it the N’Goma to work on the field of the same name in Block 15/06 operated by Italy’s Eni SpA, according to Guerra and the SBM website.

Chevron Project

Chevron’s $5.6 billion Mafumeira Sul project, the second phase of a field that began producing in 2009, is expected to produce 110,000 barrels a day starting in 2015, the company said in February.

Heerema Marine Contractors Nederland BV, located beside Paenal in Porto Aboim, may begin work on Mafumeira units in the fourth quarter instead of January as was planned, Yard Foreman Philipp Holtkamp said in an interview at the site May 7.

The strength of Paenal’s crane matches others at ports in Europe, Brazil, China and Singapore, while out-lifting the 800-ton capacity of the closest competitor in Africa, Guerra said. The world’s largest crane can lift 6,800 tons, the equivalent of 78 space shuttles, according to Engineering News-Record.

Paenal was formed in 2008 with a 40 percent holding by Sonangol and 30 percent each for SBM and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. of South Korea.

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