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Reef Subsea Secures Offshore Operations Contracts in West Africa

Reef Subsea has secured two contracts for offshore operations in the West Africa region with a combined value of more than US$15M (£9.8 Million).

The firm’s IMR and Construction division, based in Bergen, Norway, is working with two major oil and gas companies on the projects in The Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea.

For both projects, Reef Subsea, which also has a presence in Aberdeen, Houston, Mandal in Norway and Surrey and Stockton-on-Tees in England, is providing operational support using one of its subsea construction support vessel’s, Reef Larissa, which will perform structure installations, ROV & survey operations and commissioning support in water depths down to 1400 metres. In addition, onshore engineering will be delivered from Reef Subsea’s Bergen office. Reef Subsea will add to the operational competence and experience involved in the projects while ensuring the scope of work is carried out in a safe and efficient manner.

Tim Sheehan, Executive VP Commercial of Reef Subsea, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded these two contracts, which confirm our teams and assets are well adapted to subsea construction operations in deepwater worldwide. We have already worked in West Africa over the past few years, and are pleased to be operating in this region again to strengthen our reputation further.”

Ørjan Lunde, Managing Director of Reef Subsea IRM & Construction, said: “We are pleased to have secured these two projects in West Africa with blue chip operating companies. West Africa will be a key region for us in the future to meet our strategy to become a leader in field of life IRM & Construction services.”

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Ezra Secures USD 65 Million Contracts in GoM and West Africa

Ezra Holdings Limited (Ezra, the Group), a leading global offshore contractor and provider of integrated offshore solutions to the oil and gas (O&G) industry, today announced that its subsea construction division, EMAS AMC, has secured contracts worth more than US$65 million, including options, for projects in the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa.

The Gulf of Mexico work will see EMAS AMC introduce the Lewek Falcon, a versatile subsea construction vessel, into the Gulf of Mexico for a long-term campaign on the Walker Ridge Gathering System (WRGS), which is an ultra-deep (2500 metres) setup to provide natural gas gathering services. The scope of work will consist of the transportation and installation of suction piles, manifolds and jumpers along with pipeline pre-commissioning support, and work is expected to commence first half of 2013.

The West Africa-Equatorial Guinea contract extends an existing general service agreement with ExxonMobil for subsea engineering, subsea construction and ROV support activities in West Africa through mid-2014.

Mr Lionel Lee, Managing Director of Ezra Holdings, said: “These project wins demonstrate that our subsea focus is paying off. We have been building a strong track record for our subsea construction division the past year, with past and recent project awards in remote areas and ultra-deep waters. Our continuous investment in people and key assets will reinforce our ability to efficiently and reliably support our growing global client base.”

Project management and engineering will begin immediately from EMAS AMC’s Houston office.

Subsea World News – Ezra Secures USD 65 Million Contracts in GoM and West Africa.

Few to Take On Mali Militants

October 17, 2012

By DREW HINSHAW

BAMAKO, Mali—A prospective military campaign against al Qaeda and its allies in the vast desert of this West African country has hit an obstacle: Neither Mali nor its neighbors appear ready to send soldiers into a land war, against war-hardened militants, in the world’s largest desert.

Late last week, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution giving West African states 45 days to plan to retake Mali’s north, now held by Islamic fundamentalist rebels allied to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The resolution has taken on urgency after AQIM, as the Saharan offshoot is known, was linked to last month’s attack on U.S. consulate sites in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador there and three other Americans.

AQIM militants roam the Sahara from Mauritania to Libya, a swath larger than India. After Mali’s democratically elected government collapsed earlier this year, they have taken over Mali’s France-sized north and begun to enforce Islamic law with public amputations and executions.

Now, foreign governments want to borrow a page from Somalia, where African Union peacekeepers recently routed al Qaeda-allied militants, a crucial step in stabilizing the strife-torn East African country. On Friday, dignitaries from the U.N., France, the U.S. and across Africa are set to assemble in Bamako, the country’s unassuming capital, for the largest meeting to date on the crisis.

But confusion in Bamako—along with the challenges such a military action could pose—have delayed the campaign, ceding Mali’s north to an al Qaeda affiliate eager to strike Western targets.

Mali’s own army lacks training, equipment and arms. In an indication of the general confusion there, officials in Guinea recently intercepted a shipment of weapons destined for Bamako because they weren’t sure who would end up with the arms. On Wednesday, Guinean officials agreed on plans to return it, the Associated Press reported.

The Economic Community of West African States, or Ecowas, has proposed sending 3,300 personnel from Mali and its neighbors to battle in the north. But even some Ecowas member countries are hesitant to dispatch combat troops, and there is no indication that international forces would join in.

At the U.N., Security Council diplomats have said the Ecowas mission isn’t properly organized and that it won’t authorize any force until it is. The Pentagon is willing to send advisers to help with Ecowas force-deployment—once Ecowas has a plan for Mali—but won’t send forces, U.S. defense officials say. A U.S. appropriations act blocks Washington from providing direct military aid to a non-democratic state such as Mali. The U.S. is considering unilateral strikes in the region, officials have said, and the White House’s National Security Council has asked civilian experts to put together a list of potential air strike targets there, according to one of the analysts asked.

French President François Hollande, too, has said France would provide logistical and training assistance to an Ecowas-led military intervention but wouldn’t send soldiers. The EU was expected earlier this week to announce a training program for Malian and African troops, but instead said Monday it would propose the program by mid-November.

Mali defense officials say such shortages won’t stop their campaign.

“We’re going to start the mission without Ecowas and they can come find us along the road,” said Mali defense ministry spokesman Nouhoum Togo.

On a recent afternoon outside the capital, in Mali’s south, a group of Malian soldiers rehearsed for war by practicing driving flatbed trucks over scrubland, the closest thing at hand to a desert. For years, the U.S. held annual exercises with Malian soldiers on a nearby plot of land. But when al Qaeda rebels ambushed Mali’s military outposts in the north, many of those same soldiers fled.

“Before, we weren’t ready to die,” said Mr. Togo, the defense ministry spokesman. “Now, for our dignity and our country, we’re ready to die.”

The same month Mali’s army abandoned the north, frustrated army officers staged a coup, toppling the democratically elected government in Bamako. Heavily armed Islamic fundamentalists now rule the north.

Of the 3,300 personnel West Africa nations have tentatively offered to send, the bulk would come from Nigeria. Many of the rest include non-combat personnel: police officers, engineers, doctors. Tiny Togo is likely to send about 100 troops, its prime minister said. Guinea-Bissau is sending personnel, but its army is preoccupied governing a country. Cape Verde has committed five doctors.

Aside from Nigeria, the Ivory Coast is a big backer of military intervention in its northern neighbor. Yet both the Ivory Coast and Liberia are hosting U.N. peacekeeping missions after their own recent civil conflicts.

West Africa’s hawks are making slow progress persuading leaders from nearby North African countries. In particular, Algeria has expressed concerns that Mali’s rebels could retreat across their shared 855-mile desert border. Even 3,300 battle-equipped soldiers from West Africa would be too few, say many analysts, to secure a sweep of dune, boulders and mountains that the French themselves failed to thoroughly colonize. Nigeria is pushing Ecowas to raise its troop commitments to 5,000 troops, according to one of the country’s senior security officials. Nigeria is lobbying Senegal to provide much of that margin.

Mali’s Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, one of the top leaders of the transitional government, is a former scientist who worked at NASA during the 1990s and 2000s. Today, he has the formidable task of convincing other African countries to help clear the country’s north of militants. The prime minister has been to Niger, Algeria, Morocco, Chad and South Africa seeking support.

South Africa and Chad have voiced willingness to participate. But it isn’t yet clear what such troops would be doing in Mali. Ecowas plans to invade the cities of the north, according to its Special Representative to Mali Aboudou Touré Cheaka. These would include the historic and vulnerable trading town of Timbuktu, where 14th-century clay monuments have been smashed by Islamists who view them as sacrilegious.

Mali’s army has asked that Ecowas soldiers stay behind and guard Mali’s middle belt. Many observers expect foreign troops will end up in the south, patrolling the capital, providing a sense of security to civilian leaders like the president. President Dioncounda Traoré spent May and June convalescing after pro-coup protestors broke into his office and beat him with the helmet of a palace guard.

—Julian E. Barnes, Joe Lauria and David Gauthier-Villars contributed to this article.

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