Making Malta an oil and gas services hub

Source: Mr George M. Mangion¸ PKF Malta

As published on The Malta Today on Wednesday 15th January 2013

PKF plans to organise an international oil and gas conference in London in the month of May hosted jointly with a reputable foreign organiser who is a specialist in the field. It is planned to attract more than 250 investors and others in the international media who may be encouraged to invest sufficient resources into Malta’s nascent hydrocarbon sector and in particular the expansion of maritime facilities.

In a wider context¸ the conference is gearing up to sow the seeds which will see Malta grow into an offshore hub servicing the needs of operators requiring maintenance and upgrading of rigs and in particular building of advanced subsea modern structures. It is common knowledge that the massive decommissioning work which is currently being contemplated in the North Sea oil platforms will lead to potential sharing of structural work.  While the UK oil and gas industry has reason to be optimistic of further growth¸ however the North Sea remains one of the world’s mature petroleum provinces and¸ despite new developments¸ many assets are reaching the end of their field lives and will require decommissioning.

One reliable estimate for the short term is that the total industry cost of decommissioning will amount to €8 billion¸ focusing on 40 platforms and their associated wells¸ pipelines and subsea structures across 80 fields. Of course the estimate does not cater for other variables such as the asset type¸ regulatory requirements and decommissioning strategy¸ will also greatly affect the costs from one decommissioning project to the next.

Decommissioning will develop into a major business activity¸ and it is critical that we in Malta are ready and able to share some of this work. Really and truly¸ the island is strategically well placed to exploit fully our facility as a maritime service centre which is planned to be developed in Marsa¸ a project for which international tenders are currently undergoing adjudication by Government.

It is common knowledge that the North Sea oil and gas facilities are now well beyond their utility date and decommissioning is expected to cost £30 billion over the next three decades.

Malta can gear itself up to share part of this once in a lifetime bonanza given that existing facilities in the UK are over-stretched to service the massive task. This opportunity to revitalize our ship repair and steel construction expertise and extend it to service the oil and gas sectors will complement our recent attempts to join in the list of countries which are actively involved in offshore exploration.

It is true that our vast acreage map where to drill is surrounded by neighbouring countries who themselves are active and competing in offshore oil drilling. Some of these countries have in the past disputed the way we have delineated our boundaries but recent attempts are ongoing to try to persuade