Expro bespoke base boosts business

Takoradi, expro, africa, west africa, Tullow, Andrei Ion, deep water, oil, base, ghanaInternational oilfield service company Expro has been working in Ghana since the early days of the Jubilee project

International oilfield service company Expro has been working in Ghana since the early days of the Jubilee project

Now it is opening a custom-built facility in the Takoradi area. Andrei Ion, area manager Expro Central West Africa, tells Phil Desmond why.

The decision by international oilfield service company Expro to open a custom-built facility in Takoradi is not just evidence of the seriousness with which major oil names are taking the potential of oil finds in Ghana. It also makes economic and geographical sense.

Expro currently operates in Takoradi with teams working on the Tullow contract, supplying deepwater electro-hydraulic subsea services, well testing and a range of other services. Expro has been involved with Tullow in Ghana from the exploration and appraisal phase of Jubilee through to the fast-track development phase. Clearly there has been good progress with the project, although working on a deepwater contract can throw up a few obstacles, as Andrei Ion, area manager Expro Central West Africa, explains. “We are not dependent on geological structure as the well has been constructed once we begin work,” he says. “Deep water is a challenge and there are strong currents and tides to deal with, which can often mean that we have to disconnect from the well and reconnect once the conditions are calmer.”


Extensive experience

Although Expro has been in Ghana since the early days of Jubilee, it has been in the West African region as a whole for even longer. In fact, this is an area in which Expro has worked for more than 15 years. “The team has extensive experience in working offshore, which tends to make up the majority of our work in the region,” Ion says.

Not surprisingly therefore significant investment is being made in Expro’s facilities across the region to position the company for further growth opportunities. And the site is part of this investment and, in all probability, will also support future growth. The new site allows all project activity, including deepwater subsea tools, well testing, clean-up, sampling, and PVT (pressure, volume and temperature) services, to be coordinated and monitored from a fully integrated facility.

The bespoke 8,000m2 facility houses extensive workshop and office space, is developed around modular concepts — which means it can expand with ease — and has also been designed to minimise the potential impact on the environment.


Tipping point

But what was the 'tipping point' at which Expro realised that the demands of the Ghanaian market involved creating this sort of base? As we have noted Expro has been working with its client undertaking exploration in Ghana since 2008; during the exploration phase of the Jubilee scheme, Expro was employed to deploy well testing, subsea and fluids sampling services.

However, the decision to set up a facility came later. Ion takes up the story. “Following the successful completion of this project, Expro was awarded the development phase, including subsea and well testing services, and this prompted the company to establish its Ghana base,” he says. “A number of our clients are currently working or planning to work in Ghana and so it was a logical business decision for us to have a dedicated base there.”

Expro has a strong commitment to the region, as future plans for the facility make clear. It is the first bespoke base to be constructed in Ghana by an oilfield service company. Although it currently stands at 8,000 square metres, phase two, to be completed by the fourth quarter of this year, will add a further 4,000 square metres, After which, says Ion, “Phase three will then see the facility size double as we add an additional floor.” The facility has, in any case, been designed to permit this sort of expansion. “The modular concept provides us with a great flexibility in terms of expansion, adding new services and bringing in new equipment. “


Staff presence

And the company’s staff presence in Ghana will also grow. “Ghana will become the operational hub for Expro in West Africa,” says Ion. “We currently have 60 people working in the country and are aiming to have 100 by 2013.” In addition, the company has launched a graduate training programme, with the intention of training new recruits of graduate level locally and providing them with the opportunity to work across the region as well as internationally.

As for the longer term, there is clearly a growing opportunity for well flow technologies in Africa. Expro plans to double the size of the business by 2015 through the implementation of new product lines and services, including drill stem testing, wireline intervention and the deepwater AX-S™ well intervention system.

“With strong relationships already established with many operators moving into the Ghana market, we see a number of opportunities for Expro to bring innovative and unique services to the region,” Ion adds.

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