Tag Archives: BP

Offshore – FPSO – Luanda

I managed to get scheduled for a trip to the BP Greater Plutonio FPSO (Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading) vessel just offshore from Luanda. At this stage I unfortunately don’t have any pics, as I wasn’t sure what the procedure for pics was, and I know they are pretty tight about it, but I have asked the Telecoms guy there to send me a few, so hopefully I’ll be able to update this a bit later with some then.

2008-06 01 - FPSO CGI

A CGI picture of the FPSO – Looks small? It is 310m long, and 12 stories high!

Okay, I can’t really say much about the vessel itself, the layout, or operation, or any of that – NDA stuff, but what I can say is it is pretty amazing! (I have included several links at the bottom of the blog for those interested in knowing more). It is 310 Metres long, and 12 stories high. It has a lift inside that services 7 floors. It can accommodate approx 140 people. The accommodation section is the big white building at the rear, and this is split from the “plant” area by a fire break/safety “air area” – the gap just in front of the accommodation block. We arrived by chopper, and what an experience.

So the flight was from the Sonair charter “terminal” at the airport and was scheduled for around 14h. We checked in at 12h30 and everything went fine. I only had my laptop bag, with my laptop, and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) – you are required to take as much of your own PPE with you as they can’t provide everything for everyone –  overalls, gloves and goggles in my bag, along with 3 shirts, 3 boxers and 3 socks inside it. My boots and helmet were separate in a plastic packet. Well, that got turfed. You are not allowed to take any plastic on board, so they gave me a mail bag, with Explorer written on it (BP use a drill rig called GSF Explorer in another area further out to sea), that I put my helmet and boots in. We then waited for the flight to be ready.

After the bus ride through the airport tarmacs, we arrived at a Sikorsky S-76C+ helicopter that was to be our ride.

2008-06 02 Sikorsky Chopper

A picture of a Sikorsky S-76C+ chopper. Similar to the SonAir ones.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_S-76)

This was pretty much my first time in a chopper, though I do think I have been in one  before, in fact, yes, I have been in a chopper before, but this was great. It actually taxis down onto the runway,and you pretty much expect it to travel down the runway on the wheels before taking off, but whilst you are in place, it just lifts up straight up, leans forward and flies off. Pretty strange feeling. The noise as the engines power up for the lift is pretty nerve wracking, and the whole heli shakes quite a bit. Next thing you are airborne and flying out past the Ilha and soon the coast is behind you.

The one thing they teach you in the HUET course, or advise you against, is sleeping in the chopper, yet within 5 minutes virtually everyone on board is asleep. This is due to the very monotonous and soothing vibrations that he flight produces. As it was my first offshore flight I remained awake the entire time. Though I don’t know if I’ll be doing that again on the rest of the flights. Soon we were above a cloud base that had appeared offshore, and about 30 mins later we descended through this to see the ocean once again. As we cleared the cloud base, everything around us was pure white, and you couldn’t see anything. I was watching the guy opposite me, and it was obviously his first flight as I could see the entire white of his eyes. He was nervous as hell. However, once we cleared the clouds, he was cool.

We soon arrived at our destination, and the pilot informs you of this before you arrive. This according to statistics is the highest risk time for accidents – Landings. I once again checked my exit strategy, luckily being right next to the door you kinda have THE exit strategy. 🙂 The vessel looks small at first, but the closer you get to it the larger it gets, until you soon realise that this thing is friggin massive! The flame was burning a bright orange colour from the top of gas flare, the long tower at the front of the vessel, and that was an incredible site to see it so close.  There was virtually no smoke coming from the vessel at all, and it was just gigantic when you finally arrived. The landing was great and we waited for the signal from the HLO’s (Helicopter Landing Officers), before removing our earphones, unbuckling and exiting, just ducking as you reach the rim of the rotor reach. Once inside we removed our foam inner ear plugs, and started to take in our surroundings. I noticed my mailbag being carted off to the admin section, and quickly retrieved it.

We were met by Steve our Telecoms man on board, and first thing had to attend a Safety briefing. After that we were shown to our cabins, and given a tour of the vessel in full PPE, as you are required to wear it every time you are outside. The vessel’s structure is quite amazing, and what is even more amazing to me is that there are people out there who thought this up! How to build something like this and how to put it together! That blows my mind more than anything else. This module to that module to there and there, and then eventually to the tanker waiting for the oil. So, as you can all read, this puppy can produce up to 200 000 barrels of oil A DAY, with storage capacity for 1.7 million barrels, and exports of 1 million barrels per cargo, every 5 days. Now you have to admit that that is seriously impressive. You do  the math,using an approximate oil price of $130 per barrel. Ouch!! 😮

On our tour around, I got to put my hands on the oil pipeline that comes in from the sea, and the most interesting thing is . . . it is warm. Apparently the oil comes in at around 50-60 degrees centigrade. Now, it is not something that I had ever thought about, the temperature of oil, but I was surprised to find that it is warm. We were also shown the sun deck, the most important part of the vessel, and the only part you can go without PPE gear. I also happened to see a pod of dolphins frolicking in the sea quite close by. The vis out here is awesome . . . and that’s not due to it being cold! 🙂

I fixed the issue we were sent out for, and also had a really good site visit of what is onboard, and what is fully expected of us in a support role.

The vessel is stationary – fixed in place, yet at times I could definitely feel it move. Not a lot, but ever so slightly. Steve reckons I am mad, but I tell, I could feel it moving. Whether it was rolling or just rising in the swell, not a lot of that either, I couldn’t tell. But, it definitely moves.

I got a wee bit of time in on the sundeck the one day. Half an hour in the sun before lunch, and I now know why a lot of the guys have such dark tans, for blokes that spend their entire time indoors or in PPE kit. They don’t! There were quite a few chaps outside on the sun deck, and it is like a magnet I am told – sun. Especially since it is overcast quite a bit apparently.

The accommodation was okay, apart from the fact that I think a tank had slept in my bed before, as the mattress was squashed flat on the one side! Other than that is was okay, and each cabin has it’s own bathroom with a shower with great pressure in it, which makes a change from the Luanda Res! Our pressure is crap! The food was decent too, as ship food goes I guess, though I still must say the FSV Bourbon Oceanteam 101 had the best food I have yet had offshore.

There is a gym onboard, I never got to use it as I wasn’t feeling great, and a little cinema too. The one lounge also has table tennis. 3 or 4 TV rooms litter the vessel, with each cabin also having it’s own TV. And overnight/same day laundry.

Outside the heliport entrace door is a big sign bolted onto the side of the wall: HYUNDAI. They apparently built this vessel. Ummm, okay, that is a change from the crappy cars we get back home!! 🙂

The one thing I must say, is that it appears to be very well organised and everything is in it’s place. Very “Prim and Proper”, in typical Brit style.

Thursday I was contacted by the offshore network manager and told that we needed to send someone to the GSF Explorer – an offshore rig, as they required someone for an installation/support issue there too. I offered myself as it was Francisco’s 30th Birthday on Sunday, and his wife had plans for him already. Friday morning I suddenly find out all hell has broken loose as there was now a chopper coming out to get me specifically for the trip to GSF and it has caused absolute chaos as it hasn’t been properly approved, or the correct channels haven’t been used. Classic! Eventually that was straightened out and I was scheduled to head out Saturday morning via chopper to Kwanza base in Soyo, up North on the Congo border to refuel and then fly from there to the GSF. Cool,  I haven’t been there yet. 🙂

I arrived in the departure “lounge” at 08h Saturday morning, watched the safety video – another one again – and pull out my laptop to do a bit of last minute work. A while later, I realise it is past 09h. Hold on, my flight is supposed to be at 09h. I check with the guy to be told that everything has changed. I am now going to be flying back to Luanda with the Sedco Express guys (a rig close by) and then heading by fixed wing to Soyo on a plane, and then to the GSF by chopper from there. Cool, even more travelling, and experiences. Throw it at me. I reckon this travelling is costing them a small fortune, like my entire yearly salary (haha), but that is the nature of the beast I guess. 🙂

The flight eventually arrived around 11h or so, and I was gone. Grabbing my bag on exit, I once gain noticed EXPLORER on the side of the mail bag . . . Coincidence? I think not! Once again a quick look at the incredible structure before it slips out of view, and we ascend to the heavens again.

Interested in the BP FPSO – Greater Plutonio? Read more:

Production Begins at Greater Plutonio

Plutonio – Transportation and trade

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

Loving Life.

Then the Slums – Luanda – Day 5!!

So today was just another day. Work was good, but shame poor Sly – Sylvester – landed up not going to the FPSO. He was scheduled to leave by helicopter, then they changed the location to the harbour, and due to travel permit issues, he couldn’t go. So he was rescheduled for tomorrow by chopper. So he landed up at the Harbour Base the entire day. Though, he did say he had a nice lunch!

I ducked out for Lunch with Bradley, back to the “Cafeteria” and there was absolutely no queue this time, though we were like 30 mins earlier. Maybe that was why. They have these TV’s all over the “Caf” that plays the Portuguese TCM channel. Classic stuff to watch whilst you eat, and the locals are transfixed by it. 🙂

We had to pick Sly up from the base after work, and that was very interesting as the driver took a “short cut” via the “slums”. Wow, now you see what Luanda is all about and where people actually stay. Really sad and pretty intense. Think the locations where we are – Gugs, Khyalitsha, Crossroads, IMizamo Yethu, etc – but picture mainly cinder block structures as opposed to houses. Pretty crazy man, but I suppose the “location” areas are all the same the world over.

Dinner was at Maria’s, my local colleague, her father’s restaurant – not too sure what it is called, but it was pretty cool. It is located on Ihla de Luanda, the peninsula and is almost directly opposite Miami. We were joined by a few BP UK Ex-Pats and it was quite funny. OK, one topic that is definitely taboo is taking the piss out of people by asking them what they are doing for the environment or how their job relates to it. Hmmm, I won’t be joking about that with Petroleum Employees anymore. A VERY TABOO SUBJECT indeed. And I love my piss taking!! 🙂 Anyway, the food was good, and I wasn’t as knackered as usual. Why . . . I hadn’t taken my Malaria pill yet, so that is obviously the trick – that and not drinking beers it appears! 🙂

The city of Luanda is absolutely stunning at night, and I am definitely going to get some really awesome pics with my Canon EOS 400D when I return. Dad is borrowing it right now. Good thing though as I wouldn’t have had the space for it, plus I want to use the first trip just to get my feet on the ground and not be distracted!

Tomorrow is the House Braai with a few of the BP Big Boys in our arena, so that should definitely be entertaining! 🙂

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉

A Brave New World – Luanda – Day 3!!

So, today I started my new job in earnest. Man, weird to be back in it. Thrown straight into an operational issue that morning, that was interesting considering I was now responsible for managing the issues, as opposed to being responsible for solving them. So quite tough in a way to have to hold back, but I am getting used to it. 🙂

Loads to do here so I am going to be kept very busy for a long time to come, which is great. Means I won’ have to get bored, or restless . . . I hope! So far the first impression is that we are on top of things, which is good.

Day 3 - Neighbours

Our neighbours, literally right on top of us.

We went for lunch down the road, and the around the corner, and it was my first true experience of being on the ground in Luanda, as we walked. Man, I have already talked about the heat, but unless you have ever been to an equatorial or mid tropical country, you really can’t understand it. I believe Bangkok is apparently very similar, if not in fact worse. But the heat and humidity here is intense. I think the problem is compounded by the fact that everywhere you you are in air conditioned rooms, offices, vehicles, restaurants, etc. So when you do venture out you go from a fairly cooled environment, typically in the region of about 20 degrees, or sometimes less, straight into about 32-34 degrees. Man, it is seriously intense. And the humidity just sits. So it is not like being in Cape Town in 32 Degrees, but rather think of sitting in a steam room at 32 degrees. Okay it is not that bad that you break out in a sweat every time you go outside, but it can be uncomfortable if you are in heavy clothing or wearing trousers. It’s also not as bad as when I did my Sailing trip, which I will actually blog after my first trip home, as I left my “diary” at home on this trip. Part of the 32Kilo constraints!

Personally I enjoy the temperature, and the climate. I enjoy being outdoors and it’s great to be able to get out and enjoy the sun and warmth. The only problem though is that you don’t actually see the sun, or feel the rays of it . . . EVER! Everyday is overcast, or cloudy, but not like dark cloudy, but just hazy cloudy. There is glare from the sun everywhere, but no actual rays.

Costs are MENTAL!! I was warned that it was expensive, but man, this is ridiculous! A main meal, just the course itself, well the lunch venue we go to, will cost you about R90! Plus R15 for the soft drink! So you are looking at around R105 for the entire meal. And that’s just a plate of rice and beef stew, or a large pizza slice with salad, pretty much any “Pratos do dia”, the Dish of the day. I will definitely be blogging more on the costs as they occur, and trying to get my head around it as things go on.

Dinner that day was at Portugalia down near Ilha de Luanda, or commonly known as Ilha. Basically Island, which is actually the Peninsula. It is right next to the BP Staff housing, and it is pretty sparsely arranged with a few outside tables and then big screen/blank wall for watching the football, which I was going to find out is quite a big thing in Luanda. I was really tired by the time we finished, and I think that might be due to a combination of the Malaria Pill and the Beers I keep on drinking. And that was all before dinner! Dinner was ok, not fantastic, and once again, really expensive for what you get. Like R 150 for the main course alone, and the portions would be the equivalent of a R60/70 meal in Cape Town, if that.

Anyway, I was virtually passed out by the time we got home, and am going to sleep like a log now!

Click.

Nunnsby

Easy Going Guy 😉