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Contractors in Buoyant Mood as Five-Year Offshore EPC Spend to Total $276 Billion

A review of offshore oil and gas (O&G) engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) activities in the first half of 2022 has been a mixed bag, emboldened by Brent oil price averaging $70/bbl in 2021 and $107/bbl in 1H 2022, there were high expectations for an influx of offshore EPC awards.

However, despite an increase in early-stage engagement of the supply chain by E&Ps and a steady growth in the number of pre-sanction projects, the optimism for a bumper year has been somewhat tempered, with Westwood’s 2022 offshore EPC contract award value now estimated to close at US$68 billion, 18% lower than our January 2022 outlook.

This decline is due to delays in project sanctioning, as some operators remodel project economics due to supply chain inflationary pressures that could range between 10% to 15% for subsea equipment and production platforms. Furthermore, it’s been challenging for the supply chain to scale up quickly after being forced to downsize during the pandemic. This has led to limited participants in some EPC tenders, causing operators to continually extend bid deadline dates or retender for projects to increase competition, forcing a delay on the project-sanctioning timeline.

Some major projects that have had final investment decision (FID) and EPC award delayed from 1H 2022 include Equinor’s Rosebank development (UK), TotalEnergies’ Cameia-Golfinho project (Angola), and the Preowei field (Nigeria), PetroVietnam’s Block B project (Vietnam), as well as Petronas’ Bestari (Malaysia). Whilst these delayed projects are expected to be sanctioned over the next 18 months, projects such as Shell’s Linnorm (Norway) and Aker Energy’s Pecan (Ghana) have been shelved indefinitely, as Shell explores alternative development concepts for its Linnorm field, and Aker Energy seeks potential farm-in partners for Lukoil’s stake in the Pecan field due to uncertainties surrounding the complexity of possible future Western sanction against the Russian-based operator. In the Americas, Shell is working with Equinor to complete and update the field development plan (FDP) for its recently acquired Sparta field in the US GoM – formerly TotalEnergies’ North Platte. However, no development timeline has been announced after TotalEnergies ditched development plans and relinquished its 60% stake in the field earlier this year. In Suriname, following the announcement of the Krabdagu discovery in Block 58 in February 2022, TotalEnergies and block partner Apache opted to prioritise the appraisal of existing Block 58 discoveries alongside further exploration ahead of previously stated development plans within the block, with development of existing discoveries not anticipated to commence until 2024.

EPC Award Activity Remains Robust Despite Delays

That said, offshore O&G EPC related contracting activity in 1H 2022 has been robust, with an estimated award value of approximately US$26 billion – a three-fold increase compared to 1H 2021. This spend was driven by 123 subsea tree unit awards, eight floating production systems (FPS) – four newbuilds, two conversions, two upgrades/redeployments, 52 fixed platforms (topsides), over 1,600 km of subsea umbilicals, risers & flowlines (SURF) and 1,660 km of line pipe. Major projects sanctioned in 1H 2022 include ExxonMobil’s Yellowtail development (Guyana), LLOG’s Leon Castile fields (USA), Shell’s Crux (Australia), Equinor’s Haltenbanken East (Norway), ADNOC’s Umm Shaif – Long Term Development Phase I and Saudi Aramco’s Zuluf Incremental project.

Looking forward to the second half of 2022, Westwood estimates offshore O&G EPC related awards to total US$42 billion, driven by contract awards for 138 subsea tree units, 15 FPS units, 119 fixed platforms (topsides), over 3,870 km of SURF and 3,500 km of line pipe. 60% of the expected fixed platform topsides awards in 2H 2022 will be driven by Saudi Aramco, as the NOC continues to invest in its Abu Safah, Manifa, Safaniya and Zuluf projects, with 50 platform jackets already awarded across these fields in 1H 2022. Other key contract awards to watch in 2H 2022 include Shell’s Gato do Mato (Brazil), Aker BP’s NOA Fulla and Wisting project offshore Norway, QatarEnergy’s North Field Compression phase one project, as well as Woodside Energy’s Trion (Mexico). However, FID on Trion could be delayed beyond 2022 due to the recently completed merger of BHP’s O&G portfolio with Woodside Energy Group, as the operator aims to gain full knowledge of the BHP assets it has inherited.

After a turbulent 2020-21 period denominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the erosion of oil demand and a crash in oil prices, the offshore O&G sector is prime for a flurry of investment to make up for limited spending over the last few years. The EIA predicts Brent oil price to average $104/bbl and $94/bbl in 2022 and 2023 respectively, setting the tone for an upcycle. Data from Westwood’s SubseaLogix and PlatformLogix market analytic tools shows a sustained upcycle over the 2022-26 forecast period in the absence of any significant shocks in O&G demand, with offshore EPC spend expected to total $276 billion, a 71% increase compared to the preceding five-year period. Asia, the Middle East and Latin America will dominate expenditure. In West Africa, untapped gas reserves are expected to attract investments over the forecast period, as Europe urgently seeks alternative gas supplies to replace Russian feedstock.

Mark AdeosunManager – Offshore Energy Services, Westwood Global Energy Group

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