Miguel Dos Santos
Friburge is a pan African Oil & Gas and Mining Services provider headquartered in Angola with a support office in Cape Town South Africa and a strong presence in the gulf of guinea. To meet the increasing demand for technologically innovative, more cost-effective and environmentally-safe methods for exploring and extracting, in Africa’s growing Oil and Gas exploration market, Friburge has partnered with several international technology providers in order to provide the best services, with the best technology available, positive impact to the environment and significantly reduce operational costs
Friburge oil and gas is driven by innovation and professionalism and aims to win the trust of both its customers and partners by living up to a code of ethics and transparent business; delivering on both efficiency and reliability, joining local knowledge with international standards
It is in the light of the above that Friburge Oil & Gas announced its innovative liquid waste treatment solution in this snap interview with Orient Energy Review at the 23rd Africa Oil Week in Cape Town, South Africa. Excerpt:
Let’s get to know you please?
My name is Miguel Dos Santos. Born and raised in Angola. Did my studies in South Africa became a South African in 1996 and left officially in 2012. Friburge was established at a time when we saw the vision of the opportunities that we could deliver in the country. Having proven our mettle in Angola, we decided to extend to the rest of Africa.
What are your basic services?
We have about four main services at FRIBURGE. First is the inspection service in the country; we are in charge of controlling the quality, quantity and delivery, onshore and offshore. So far this year, we have controlled about over 2 million onshore and offshore inspections and over 22 million m3 of petroleum products imported into Angola. To briefly explain our duties again; as vessels come in from overseas, before it is discharged, it is our mission to go on board, take samples and test them in the different labs, check the quality before it is supplied to the client. So we have been doing it for the past four years and for two years now we are the only ones carrying out that service for the companies who are allowed to import on behalf of Sonangol.
Summarily, in all of Angola, we do inspection on trucks and on vessels. Delivery is done from South to North on the waters and on the road as well. This is important as you know, because Angola delivers the products to other countries as well. Against all odds, like theft, water getting into the product, we endeavour to discharge our duties by transporting the product from the South up to the North. We contribute a whole lot in the reduction of robbery while on the road. Our operations in Sonangol last year, managed to save around 500, 000 litres of the product which ordinarily was lost to theft.
Besides inspection do you offer any other service?
Yes we do. We are in charge of the STS services which are the Ship To Ship transfer. Our duties include the supply of equipment, fenders, import vessels and even Cabotage vessels. The maneuvers, tug boats, and others are being supplied by us. Cabotage and imports. Also, we are trying to launch and domesticate in Angola some novel technologies from Norway; a company called Nurture Oil and Gas. They are listed in London Stock Exchange. The technology they have is quite amazing and I believe strongly it would help do a lot to save the African environment.
Ok in terms of capacity have you gotten any certifications?
Yes we do. We have the ISO 14001: 2004, ISO 9001:2000 and OSHA. We are also in the process of getting certified by Trace for due diligence compliance. We are fully licensed to carry out the listed activities.
As a proof of your capacity, what are some of the companies you currently work for in Angola?
We work with the fish authority, supplying them services on special maneuvers for their fish boats; we also work for the state oil company: Sonagol, via the three subsidiaries of the company. We handle all their maneuvers.
Tell us about the desirable qualities and training exposures of your staff.
They are young. It’s a blend of experienced hands; though some are learning on the job. A typical example is the head of Operations who happens to be a lady. She started out as very young and inexperienced but has since risen up the ranks over the years with 18 men now reporting to her.
With a view to technicalities of the job you’re involved in, do you have a plan for technological transfer?
We sure have plans for that. It’s a huge part of our focus in 2017.
For instance, as we plan to go into Nigeria, we are considering a slow, step by step approach. Equipped with this innovation, we shall enter the market steadily with a well-planned partnership.
Dalila (Friburg’s BDM) adds…I spent two weeks in Norway with this technical partner of ours in trying to understand the operations. They are very willing to teach us and are open about skill transfer. Our plan includes the outright purchase of all listed equipment and machinery for the operations and these would be operated by Angolans. This is our agreement with them.
There are also plans to build these machines in Africa. We have big dreams. We started out by outsourcing most of our operations but today, most of these outsourced jobs are being done by Angolans and that’s what is responsible for the certifications we’ve acquired.
Do you have a timeline covering your agreement with this partner with a view to deliberate technology transfer?
Not exactly, but time would tell how it pans out. But we do have the exclusivity to Africa.
How is this new technology different from your regular operation?
This technology is about the wastewater treatment on rigs. Not only on rigs but also on terminal points where water is being contaminated by chemicals like drilling fluids, oil base, etc. The normal practice is to collect the waste water offshore, then move it all the way onshore, to some treatment plant. But this technology cuts off the time wasted in transporting the waste. It also cuts off the cost of leasing vessels to achieve this objective. So, we have mobile units that sit on the rig and do the treatments. Also, the regulatory standards put the discharge concentration of waste into the water body at 30 ppm but this technology achieves 5 ppm. It’s also highly appreciated as an operator does not need to have a permanent structure on the rig when there’s a mobile unit. This 20 foot container-like structure can serve two or more operators, one after the other.
Are you looking at entering into other countries?
Yes. Our priorities are: Nigeria, Ghana, and Equatorial Guinea.
Still looking at the local content policy in Angola, how are companies faring? Can you point to some milestone or achievements spurred by the Act?
There are a lot of JV partnerships happening between multinational companies and indigenous companies in Angola taking place. A typical example is what I saw some days back: Aker Solution Angola now manufactures valves and some other equipment within Angola for the consumption in the industry. There is Oceaneering Angola doing something similar things as well. We at Friburge plan to set up an assembly shop in 2017, which would metamorphose into a manufacturing plant later on as we hope to manufacture our own equipment, like fenders, etc. We have acquired the land for this already.
How well have you done as a company since the creation of the local content law?
The recent dollar crisis witnessed the departure of many companies from Angola. At a particular time, we were among the four companies to supply Sonangol with inspection services. Then Sonangol had to cut down on cost and revert to paying in our local currency, but the multinational companies dumped the projects and we were the only player left, who was willing to accept such payment terms. So we thrived.
Has the local content law encouraged local entrepreneurship?
Well, there have been lots of Joint Ventures being formed between indigenes and foreign companies but there haven’t been very many indigenous companies, established by themselves to operate like we are, just a few of us. An indigenous company that readily comes to mind would be embarking on drilling shortly; but that’s the only local drilling company I know of. Let’s put the total figure at 5: just about 5 companies are wholly indigenous, operating in Angola as at now.
I have never seen an Angolan company in any international exhibition like this; Friburge is the first. Besides Sonagol, we don’t see Angolan companies. But, we feel we needed to hear from another indigenous company and because you are not government owned it would be great to know the effect of this policy from your end.
Well, all we ask of the regulators is for support so we can expand to new markets like I had earlier highlighted. With support of our services, we are able to go into Nigeria, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, etc. So we are not asking for money from our regulators but for support in any way that would further our expansion. This is why the business development manager in Angola is still going to be the same person anchoring business development anywhere in Africa, regardless of the business model we adopt there.
Talking of financing, how are the banks supporting your operations? Do you get enough support?
No the banks haven’t supported in anyway.
Are you still a private company or you are now listed on the stock market?
Being listed is in the pipes as well; eventually we will be listed. First of all, the privilege would go to the internal stakeholders of the companies: members of staff. For now, we have fared well on our own and we are not funded by any external body.
What is your turnover at the moment?
It’s about 30 million dollars!
What is your staff strength?
We have a lot of staff including women, I think in number, well over a hundred and twenty six across North and South Angola.
What are your plans for the Nigerian market? What model of business would you be looking at for penetration?
We want to have a JV with some Nigerian service companies and see ways we can work together to deliver these solutions to the operating companies. I am already talking with a few of them in Nigeria but they are not much in terms of developing those relationships.
On the flipside, if you come to Nigeria and found remarkable technologies that are non-existent in Angola or are only provided by multinationals would
you also be willing to enter agreements in order to render such services in Angola?
Yes, most definitely!