INTERVIEW: Ezra Moving FPSO To Vietnam As Company Eyes Deep Water

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June 29, 2011

Ezra holdingsSINGAPORE (Dow Jones)–Singapore-listed Ezra Holdings Ltd. (5DN.SG) is due to ship a large offshore floating oil production unit to Vietnam this week, while further over the horizon it hopes to cash in on growing interest in deep-water oil and gas fields in the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, West Africa and ultimately Asia-Pacific.

The company has a long-range focus on deep-water oil and gas projects as interest in such developments are gaining momentum globally, particularly in the Atlantic basin, due to more easily accessible deposits being depleted and high oil prices making this type of frontier exploration more feasible.

“If you’re looking at the next 10 years, there’s going to be a lot of deep water projects there in the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, West Africa and South America,” Ezra Group Managing Director Lionel Lee told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.

Ezra, which operates under the brand name EMAS, specializes in providingoffshore oil and gas industry services.

Its Lewek EMAS floating production, storage and offloading vessel, or FPSO, will leave Singapore Friday or Saturday to the shallow-water Chim Sao oil field in Block 12W, about 350 kilometers offshore southern Vietnam, Lee said.

The unit, with a production capacity of up to 50,000 barrels a day and capable of storing 680,000 barrels of crude, has been chartered to Chim Sao field operator Premier Oil Vietnam Offshore B.V. for up to 12 years.

Premier Oil PLC (PMO.LN), which holds a 53.1% stake in the project, plans to start crude output from Chim Sao in August. Other partners are Santos Ltd. (STO.AU) and PetroVietnam, holding 31.875% and 15% interests, respectively.

“We are in the Gulf of Mexico to get the experience (in deep water projects),” Lee said.

Recently, the company, through its newly acquired subsidiary–Norway’s Aker Marine Contractors–delivered and installed approximately 40 kilometers of steel piping for Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s (RDSA.LN) Popeye Project in the deep-water Green Canyon block 116 in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last October, Ezra acquired AMC–a unit of Aker Solutions ASA (AKSO.OS)–for $250 million to help reinforce its deep-water expertise and complement its traditional strength in pipe-laying and heavy-lift equipment.

“There are no plans to acquire more companies” after AMC, Lee said. “The company will grow organically and we will use existing overseas offices [to support] other divisions.”

“AMC is now fully integrated…and we’ve recruited 300 people for the Houston and Oslo offices.”

Further out, the company plans to set its sights on a relatively little-developed deep-water area–the Asia-Pacific region.

There is already some activity–for example last month China’s Cnooc Ltd. (CEO) said it will drill four to six deep-water wells in the South China Sea this year and accelerate deep-water exploration over the next four years.

In Indonesia, Chevron Corp. (CVX) is developing the Gendalo-Gehem natural gas project in the Makassar Strait offshore East Kalimantan, in water depths of approximately 2,000 meters. The project is now in the front-end engineering-and-design stage.

Ezra’s share price has fallen 21.16% since the start of the year, compared with a 5.71% fall by Singapore’s STI.

-By Cheang Chee Yew, Dow Jones Newswires


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