Scarabeo 5 semi-submersible drilling rig; Source: Saipem

BP books Saipem for work in Gulf of Mexico while Eni hands out rig conversion deal

Italy’s engineering, drilling, and construction services giant Saipem is on a roll, as it lined up its second batch of contracts in two days and its third one since the start of this month. The latest set of deals was secured with two oil majors. These assignments, awarded by Eni and BP, come with a total value of around $700 million.

Scarabeo 5 semi-submersible drilling rig; Source: Saipem

The Italian giant won the first contract with Eni Congo for the conversion of the Scarabeo 5 semi-submersible drilling rig into a separation and boosting plant – a floating production unit (FPU), which is a semi-submersible production platform that receives the production fluids from wellheads riser platforms, separates the gas from liquids and boosts the gas to feed the nearby floating LNG (FLNG) unit.

After an agreement signed early this year for the execution of preliminary engineering and procurement activities, the new contract entails the engineering, procurement, construction, transportation and commissioning of the FPU to be installed offshore the coast of the Republic of Congo, located northwest of the Djeno Terminal, in a depth of about 35 metres. The commissioning of offshore works and the start-up of the FPU are slated for 4Q 2025.

According to Saipem, this deal is part of Eni’s Congo LNG project, the country’s first natural gas liquefaction project that is expected to reach an overall LNG production capacity of 3 million tons per year – approximately 4.5 billion cubic meters per year – from 2025. The Congo LNG project is expected to exploit the gas resources of the Marine XII project, fulfilling power generation needs while fuelling LNG exports and supplying new volumes of gas to international markets focusing on Europe.

The project entails the installation of two floating natural gas liquefaction plants at the Nenè and Litchendjili fields. The first FLNG plant, currently under conversion and with a capacity of 0.6 million tonnes per year, is expected to begin production in 2023, while the second FLNG plant, already under construction, is expected to become operative in 2025, with a capacity of 2.4 MTPA.

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Aside from this, the Italian player landed a contract with BP for offshore activities in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico related to the Argos floating production unit (FPU), a facility designed for oil and gas production in deepwater environments. The Argos FPU, which came online in April 2023, is located in the Green Canyon Block 780, in approximately 1,400 metres of water depth.

Argos is the centrepiece of BP’s Mad Dog Phase 2 project, which extends the life of the Mad Dog field, discovered in 1998. This platform has a waterflood injection capacity of more than 140,000 barrels of low-salinity water per day to help increase oil recovery from the super-giant oil field. 

Standing 27 stories tall, the platform has a deck with the length and width of an American football field and weighs more than 60,000 tons. BP is the operator with a 60.5 per cent working interest while its co-owners include Woodside Energy (23.9 per cent) and Union Oil Company of California, an affiliate of Chevron U.S.A. Inc. (15.6 per cent).  

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Saipem explains that its flagship vessel, Saipem Constellation, will carry out the marine activities required for the project, which will be managed by the firm’s execution centre in Houston, a strategic hub for the company’s activities in the region.

“This contract represents a significant milestone as it will be the first project involving the deployment of the Saipem Constellation in the Gulf of Mexico and follows a series of awards for projects in Australia and Guyana. In addition, the award proves Saipem’s expertise in delivering cutting-edge offshore solutions for the energy industry,” outlined the Italian giant.

The deals with Eni and BP come on the heels of a contract worth about $1 billion with Mellitah Oil & Gas for the development of a gas project off Libya. This in turn came only days after Saipem won two contracts in Romania and Germany with a total value of around €1.8 billion, which is close to $2 billion ($1.97 billion).