By Angelos Anastasiou
CYPRUS can boast companies with the expertise to perform maintenance services on offshore equipment and can expect to see more heading its way, the Ports’ Authority chairman Alecos Michaelides said yesterday.
He was referring to Wednesday’s short-lived panic over a small drilling rig en route from the Turkish coast to Cyprus, which prompted speculation that it might have been commissioned by Turkey for gas explorations in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The fears turned out to have been over nothing when it was revealed that the rig would be arriving at Limassol for maintenance work after its contract with the Turkish government expired.
Daily Phileleftheros reported that concerns over the rig’s course even prompted a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and President Nicos Anastasiades, who had been in the know and had informed the Greek Premier accordingly.
Speaking on state radio yesterday, Michaelides said the rig belonged to a Romanian company, and was in fact commissioned by Turkish authorities to carry out research near Iskenderun off the country’s south-eastern coast.
“It had been leased by Turkey but the contract expired, and the company decided to commission maintenance and repair work on the rig,” Michaelides said.
“International tenders were invited for the rig maintenance, and the contract just happened to have been won by a Limassol-based company,” he added.
Michaelides confirmed the rig can only drill up to a maximum depth of 90 metres, so it could not possibly have anything to do with Cyprus’ EEZ or natural gas drilling.
Maintenance and repair work – so-called “industry support services” – are carried out by several firms in Cyprus, and Michaelides was keen to nip in the bud the prospect of unnecessary alarm.
“Another platform will soon be arriving to Limassol, this one from Saudi Arabia, for maintenance by another Limassol-based company – it will stay for six or seven months,” he said.
“There are companies that can do this at our ports,” he added. “They have the knowhow and the expertise to carry out maintenance and repairs.”
Indeed, EDT Offshore – the Cyprus-based company that won the maintenance contract for the Romanian jack-up rig – has over 30 years of experience in the field.
“It started out in 1980 with just a few vessels and diversified over the years into the offshore drilling industry, all the while growing its original business,” said Mike Sokratous, EDT’s operations manager.
Still growing, EDT offers a holistic service package for offshore-drilling companies. Although the number of oil-rigs of the specific type it is expecting in the coming days it is contracted to repair is rather low – perhaps one a year – it offers logistical support services for a number of Mediterranean-based offshore oil and gas companies.
“Cyprus isn’t really strategically located to accommodate maintenance and repair jobs for oil rigs and platforms – unless one is nearby, working on something, it wouldn’t normally come to Cyprus,” said Sofokleous. “But we do get a lot of logistical-support business from companies operating in the oil and gas industry in nearby countries, like Italy and Israel.”
Maintenance and repair, whether of a ship or platform, is required for certification by international bodies.
“Any floating unit has to comply with certain standards, and these standards require certificates,” Sofokleous explained. “A boat may require an upgrade to comply with certain standards, or it could just be repairing bits and pieces that have suffered wear-and-tear. It’s really not that different to having your car serviced every few months.”