Qld CSG workload prevails

MCCONNELL Dowell is pursuing Asian and Middle East opportunities while the Australian oil and gas scene is quieter due to depressed oil prices.

Anthony Barich

There was, however, still some work as Queensland’s CSG sector changes their spending approach to "sustained capital".

Santos is also providing the company with conventional Cooper Basin opportunities which, while small, keep the dial ticking over for the construction company.

McConnell Dowell executive general manager Jim Frith told ICN sister publication Energy News on the sidelines of APPEA 2015 in Melbourne yesterday that his company was finding good opportunities more in the medium term than the short-term in Australia – three years away as opposed to the next 12 months – “and we are quite confidence of getting our fair share of those”

After a massive spend in the unconventional gas space (CSG) in Queensland, Frith said clients were changing their approach from a “capex approach” – build it to a certain time frame and budget to an end date – to an “opex approach” which is more about doing things more efficiently.

Frith described this as effectively undertaking capex work in an op-ex type environment.

“So we have set work to do in the next 20 years, we want to do it as efficiently as it can, and build on that efficiency every year that we’re doing it,” Frith said.

“You don’t just build it and produce it for 40 years, like conventional. In unconventional you need to keep up the capital spend as the CSG wells exhaust themselves after between two and seven years, which means as an operator you need to continually open up new wells to keep gas in the system.

“There’s no question that lower oil prices have put a fair dent in capex budgets here in Australia.

“I think clients have quality projects that are going to yield a revenue stream in the short term which will still proceed. But nothing is as easy as it was three to four years ago when the market was very hot and really clients were just scrambling to get work done.”

In southeast Asia, where the company has been operating for some 40 years, Frith said there were particularly enticing opportunities in Thailand, Malaysia. There were also many opportunities in the Middle East.

“These are locations where we’ve worked for many years and where we’re taking the opportunity while things are a bit quiet in Australia to spend more time and effort,” Frith said.

“We just finished a major job in Thailand and hope to win a contract to back onto that now, with PTT. We’re quite bullish on opportunities on Malaysia in the LNG space with Petronas and in the Middle East there are enormous opportunities with Saudi Aramco.”

The company was recently awarded a greenfield piping contract in Singapore by Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Company from Japan for the ExxonMobil refinery on Jurong Island, part of the super-major’s expansion plans there.