Malta is poised to become the Mediterranean’s top service hub for the oil and gas industry as late last month Ablecare Oilfield Services Holdings has concluded talks with the Maltese Government to develop an area of 170,000m² that was formerly occupied by the Marsa shipbuilding yard into a maritime hub. The initial investment is estimated to be in the region of €55 million and will see the area becoming a premier operations support facility strategically placed to deliver pre-stacking and reactivation services, certification, upgrades modifications and maintenance alongside ongoing operational support.
The site, which shall benefit from a freezone status, will support the offshore oil & gas industry with marine and subsea support services for drilling rigs. It will offer quayside facilities including 1,200 linear metres with appropriate draft, accommodation for any Mobile Offshore Drilling Units, overhaul and inspection facilities, internal and external storage areas and 5,000m² of rental office space.
The Ideal Location
Malta already serves as a base for major companies providing drilling, pipe-laying and other services to energy firms operating both onshore and offshore in the North African region and beyond. Capitalising on the island’s maritime assets that have long made it a sheltered and secure base for vessels, Malta offers deep natural harbours as well as an infrastructure geared to servicing the growing oil and gas sector. The island offers a state-of-the-art transshipment terminal, as well as storage and warehousing facilities. In addition, it boasts expertise in the repair and maintenance of ships and oil rigs, and a large pool of specialised workers offering a high level of support is available on the island. Major oil and gas discoveries in the Mediterranean are creating a demand for support services, positioning Malta as the ideal country from where key players and service providers are converging to set up and operate.
Ablecare Oilfield Services Holdings, who had been named as the preferred bidder in January last year, have a long history of successes in this specialised niche. Since 2001, with their head office in Malta and with operational experience in various countries, such as Egypt, Tunisia, Cyprus, Israel, Libya, Morocco, Italy, Canary Islands and Spain, Ablecare has become a leading supplier of specialist products and services to the marine, oil and gas industry in the Mediterranean. The group has now not only officiated the launch of the Mediterranean maritime hub but also made operational a number of projects which will develop a proper all-encompassing maritime and energy sector niche.
A Self-Sufficient Hub
The developments that will see Malta starting to act as a regional maritime service centre will not only be based around the hub in Marsa but also include a newly set up €2.5 million maritime academy in San Gwann. One of the academy’s jewels in the crown is a brand new rig drilling simulator. The simulator can be used for familiarising students with the physical operation of the equipment and the procedures during drilling operations. The academy is being portrayed as a one of its kind in the Mediterranean region and will offer both Well Control courses and CompEx courses which are required by oil rig electricians, while plans to invest in a crane simulator are also underway.
Jobs for the Future
Commenting on the launch of the new hub Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that his greatest hope is that the project, which will create 150 new jobs in the next 18 months, will rekindle the trades and skills now lacking in Malta’s economy. CEO Steven Colville said this was a huge opportunity for Malta to become the premier support base for the oil and gas industry in the Mediterranean and beyond as client companies can use the hub according to their own specific needs with full service capabilities provided on an integrated and flexible basis.