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This year, Africas offshore is set to see multiple production and exploration activities following 2023, when about 36 drilling rigs have been contracted and others extended, raising further prospects

This was reported by research firm Hawilti and logistics services firm Caverton Offshore Support Group. With Nigeria and Angola leading the way in offshore projects, countries such as the Republic of Congo and Gabon will trail close behind.

Rigs such as Valaris DS-10 for SNEPCo and Shelf Drilling’s Baltic and Mentor rigs for TotalEnergies and First E&P respectively that are mobilised offshore Nigeria have been further extended. As many as eight offshore drilling campaigns are ongoing offshore Nigeria. Sharing a similar position is Angola, hosting several mobilised rigs from international oil companies (IOC) that are moored on long term to conduct infill, development, and exploratory drilling in deep-water. In September 2023, Azule Energy signed an US$300mn contract with Sapura Energy for an offshore platform transportation and installation in Angola. Designed for the Quiluma and Maboqueiro Platform for the Angola Northern Gas Complex project, it is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2026. 

Since its discovery in 2022 by TotalEnergies, the highly prospective Venus well offshore Namibia continues to generate interests as the French major raised stakes in the region in a deal with Impact Oil and Gas. It acquired an additional 10.5% interest in block 2913B and a 9.39% interest in block 2912. The transaction "represents a key step toward the development of Venus by consolidating the partnership and securing financing of all partners," TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in a statement. 

Other global firms with interests in Africa are also prioritising completion of final investment decisions to deploy infrastructure so that new projects can be brought online sooner. Eni, for instance, is anticipating development of its Marine XII project in Congo; Trident Energy will push up its drilling campaign in Equatorial Guinea, and Perenco is looking to drill six new wells in Congo. 

With such heightened activity on the African waters, there remains a possibility of mounting pressure on supply chain and vessel availability. While it brings in the much-needed push to cultivate the region's vast, untapped resources, steps need to be in place to navigate a tight rig market. "The rigs market remain extremely tight and under supplied. High mobilisation rates and lack of rig availability is already slowing down the pace of activity and delaying several drilling plans by operators offshore Africa.” saidMickael Vogel, Director & Head of Research at Hawilti.  

A groundbreaking software application specialising in optimisation and automation of rig mobilisation process will be launched soon by the joint efforts of AI-providers AIQ and Bayanat. The Rig Move Optimisation AI System by Bayanat, which has already completed a proof of concept, will revolutionise rig moves' complex logistics and operational challenges to increase efficiency, speed up processes and significantly reduce carbon emissions. 

The platform utilises advanced analytics to streamline rig movement operations through AI-enabled route optimisation and coordinate the movement of assets, including rigs, personnel, and equipment, across multiple drilling sites. By automating the scheduling process, the software will provide real-time updates on rig availability and maintenance, resource allocation, and conflicts improving overall efficiency. A key feature of the software solution is its ability to facilitate collaboration within day-to-day business operations and reduce the total distance covered for every rig move. The reduction will have a direct estimated impact on total carbon emissions for the entire fleet of rigs.

"The combination of our AI expertise with Bayanat’s geospatial intelligence will transform logistical operations across the energy sector, drive efficiency and reduce overall emissions,” said Omar Al Marzooqi, CEO of AIQ, stating that the software can 'positively disrupt a core industry'. 

“We are excited to embark on this collaboration with AIQ. Through this partnership, we aim to revolutionise the oil and gas industry by streamlining complex logistics processes, minimising downtime, and significantly enhancing rig move efficiency. Our joint efforts will pave the way towards a more sustainable future for the sector as we drive innovation and deliver cutting-edge solutions," said Hasan Al Hosani, managing director, Bayanat.