By Andrew Hobbs

COMMITMENT and trustworthiness are the two major qualities a contractor should have to make them a suitable partner for future work, Technip Australia managing director Sam Allen told attendees at AOG 2015.

Mr Allen heads up the local operations of the French engineering giant, which has been awarded two major contracts for work on the Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility.

The first, an offshore installation contract, will see the company start the first of six offshore campaigns this winter with the installation of flowlines at the project – installing risers, moorings and other subsea structures at a later date.

“In terms of engineering and project management we are executing over 150,000 hours of work at our Perth office just on this contract,” he said.

The second contract, for offshore services, will see Technip take responsibility for the Prelude facility once it enters Australian waters in 2016 – taking it to site and carrying out the offshore commissioning of the project.

This contract would require an estimated 200,000 working hours in the company’s Perth offices and a further 120,000 hours of work offshore, Mr Allen said.

“Our team in Perth is very cognisant of the responsibility that puts upon us – as it moves to Australia all the eyes of the world are going to be on us… so to quote a famous line from the Apollo 13 movie, failure is not an option,” he said.

Marine support, offshore support and onshore and logistics support contracts were still up for grabs for both of these Technip contracts, he said, with the company seeking fabrication and procurement contractors for its offshore installation works and facilities management groups for the offshore services work.

Opportunities for Australian contractors existed in both of these areas, he said, with Technip aiming to build a relationship with these groups and work with them over an extended period of time.

Such was the example of the company’s work with Henderson-based fabrication company Civmec, to which Technip awarded a contract for eight buckle triggers in February 2014, during the first offshore campaign.

The company’s performance in building the triggers to schedule and its adoption of Technip’s behavioural safety programs – on top of what was already “exceptional performance in health safety and environment quality,” Mr Allen said, had helped the company secure three additional work packages on the project.

“Civmec have demonstrated their ability to provide high quality, high performance fabrication for oil and gas projects… (and) to integrate sophisticated components into fabrication and also site integrity programs to the level you would expect,” he said.

These strengths were enough for Technip to later award a contract for spool fabrication for its Wheatstone contract with Chevron to the company.

“When companies do good work with us, when they collaborate with us, we are prepared to go with them, and also to help build local capability as well – that’s what we want to see,” he said.

In his speech, Mr Allen acknowledged that some contractors felt they could not be heard by the companies to which they tendered their ideas.

“It is not that we do not want to hear good ideas at all, we absolutely do,” he said.

“All I can say is make sure you do what your offering is relevant, because there is no point in wasting your time or ours, and just be very persuasive and dogmatic and don’t be afraid to try to break down a few doors.”

Mr Allen said the company had originally awarded the Wheatstone contract to an Asia-based company, but moved it back to Australia after the local company proved to be competitive.

“We did have the idea that it was going to be cheaper to do in Asia,” he said.

“What we found is that with the cost of additional monitoring that is required … the fact that they are not on our doorstep with the cost of transportation, and also with the schedule risk of additional transportation time, that actually Australian fabrication is quite competitive, especially for these smaller components.”

Nonetheless, there were a range of other factors considered that made a contractor the right one to select for various contracts, he said.

Foremost of these was the use of a collaborative approach – all parties needed to be made aware of the nature of the supply chain surrounding each contract.

“The volume of documentation required for the oil and gas business is substantially more than other businesses and it is always a surprise for our subcontractors if they come into the oil and gas business relatively new – there’s just a large volume of paperwork and there is no getting away from it,” Mr Allen said.

While changes were inevitable and a degree of flexibility was important, it was important that firm structures were in place in order to avoid losing time and the costs involved with that.

“Time is paramount, the schedule is paramount and we really need to hit our targets,” he said.