In January 2009 Petrofac announced the award of the US$2.3 billion contract by Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) for the development of the onshore Asab oil field. Three years into the 44-month project, Ayad Chammas, project director, provides an update on what has been happening.
Why is the Asab field so important?
This full field development will increase production and achieve 600,000 barrels of oil per day. The project is a mega scale development and involves large construction quantities spread over a geographical area of 40 x 20km. The central degassing station facility alone covers an area of 2.5km.
That is a significant scope of work so, how are things progressing?
The project is going very well: overall progress is currently around 82% and construction activities are around 60% complete. With around 14,000 workers on the project, we have come a long way since we kicked off the project with just five people on site! We faced and still face many challenges ahead, but with the strong will and dedication of our team, and a highly communicative relationship with ADCO we are confident that we will deliver to expectation.
Safety is a priority for both Petrofac and ADCO. Have you had any particular successes or disappointments in this area from which positive outcomes have been achieved?
A major success was the achievement of 25 million man-hours without LTI. We maintain constant focus on work being executed safely, field inspections and site awareness campaigns with very visible management contributions from both Petrofac and ADCO.
On site, we currently have more than 20 direct subcontractors from a number of countries and workers encompassing 30 different nationalities. Some arrive with little or no previous experience in our industry nor awareness of the inherent risks.
Our site leadership, along with ADCO, has implemented a variety of themed safety programmes with an emphasis on behavioural safety. These are presented in multiple languages and underpinned by incentive schemes to enhance engagement. To give an idea of magnitude, in 2011, we scheduled roughly 4,000 site inspections, task risk analysis and safety checks, each with a specific theme and area, such as awareness campaigns for operators and drivers on the project; this is particularly important as the number of equipment and vehicles on the project have exceeded 2,200.
As we know, the weather in the desert of the Emirates can reach extremely high temperatures, particularly in the summer months. How do you overcome this factor and maintain progress of the work on site?
High temperatures, frequent sand storms, fog and low visibility are all conditions we have to deal with and have anticipated. Starting work early, night shifts and extended mid-day breaks are among some of the solutions we have. Furthermore, we are able to mobilise additional manpower and equipment should we need to put in place any specific mitigation measures due to the environmental factors.
The ASAB project is one of the largest projects to be awarded to Petrofac in the region. Has this solidified the relationship between Petrofac and the ADNOC group of companies?
I meet regularly with ADCO’s shareholder representatives and, without exception, everyone involved understands that in order for this mega development to succeed we need to have solid relationships and common objectives. I can say that they have portrayed a pragmatic and progressive approach in extending all the support needed to achieve those goals.
What is the next significant milestone for the project?
Our main objective as a team is to complete this project safely, that will take another year of continuous focus and improvement along with the utmost vigilance from our team and subcontractors. Another milestone is to achieve 70% completion of construction by end of 2011 but that is a challenge we look forward to.