Agility’s cost-saving Onslow Supply Base
Agility has a strong track record of operating in out-of-way places and high-risk locations. A new logistics hub in western Australia could deliver more than 30% cost savings to LNG operators.
Accessing offshore platforms in the energy-rich Carnarvon Basin off the coast of northwest Australia is critical for oil and gas producers. In September, Agility began operating a service hub and marine supply base for long-term maintenance, daily operations and future projects, one intended to offer significant cost savings and commercial benefits for companies conducting offshore drilling in the basin.
The $125 million multi-user supply base opened in Onslow, Australia, in September. Onslow is poised to become a bustling energy hub connecting industry, vessel owners and operators to the oil and gas fields extending within the Carnarvon Basin from the eastern side of Varanus Island to Exmouth. Onslow’s proximity is particularly advantageous to customers with facilities at Barrow Island, Thevenard Island, the Gorgon platform and the Northern Exmouth sub-basin.
Agility has extensive experience in marine services for oil and gas customers. Onslow offered a strategic location that encouraged the company to be bold. Even though global energy prices remain low and port operations are not a core business for Agility, the company saw Onslow as a unique opportunity, in part because the nearest port is Dampier, 300 km further north via road and eight hours north by sea. Private and public sector parties had considered similar opportunities within Onslow and Exmouth but ultimately made no investments.
Agility became aware of the proposed Onslow base in 2014 and offered the developer a tour of the massive Gorgon Supply Base, which Agility manages in Henderson, Western Australia. The Gorgon supply base proved that Agility has the capability and expertise to operate a new facility at Onslow.
Onslow is a unique value proposition. Essa Al-Saleh, CEO of Agility Global Integrated Logistics, estimates that Onslow’s services and value-added solutions could potentially save customers 30% to 40%. Customers will reduce fuel burn when accessing worksites closer to Onslow, effectively reducing labor hours on vessels and perhaps even reducing the number of vessels needed for each project. Because it is closer to offshore fields in the southern Carnarvon Basin, there is potential for work crews to be transferred via vessel rather than helicopter; and some customers have expressed interest in sharing vessels and deck space for further savings. Onshore, the main benefits are increased safety and time savings because Onslow is 300 km closer to Freemantle than Dampier. A reduction in linehaul time means less time on the road, less risk for accidents.
At Onslow, Agility will provide standard marine support base services together with value-added services. In addition to wharf operations, such as fork lift, crane and landing craft tank ramps, Agility conducts pilotage, underwater inspections and more. Value-added services include mud, chemical and concrete management; offshore equipment hire and management; vessel maintenance, painting and fabrication; and response for emergencies and oil spills.
Customers will be able to use Agility’s 24-hour online booking system for waterway and wharf slot times, providing reliable berth access. They’ll also benefit from regular linehaul between Perth and Onslow. Agility’s supply base operations will be creating new jobs in Onslow — potentially up 150 new, permanent positions. An influx of new residents is a boon to local business growth, demonstrating that there is opportunity yet in an evolving industry.
Agility managed domestic supply-base operations in Perth and Dampier for Australia’s Greater Gorgon gas field, one of the world’s largest natural gas projects.
The consortium of energy majors developing Gorgon was demanding: it needed general warehousing, long-term storage, staging areas for materials, quarantine-compliant facilities, domestic transportation and marine transport.
The Gorgon field, located 130 km to 200 km off the coast of Western Australia, contains an estimated 40 trillion cubic feet of gas and has a life expectancy of 60 years.
Agility operated four supply bases in addition to warehouses and laydown yards. Monthly TEU shipments on the project peaked at 8,900 as Agility trucks and trailers traveled the equivalent of 1,400 trips around the world to deliver more than 3.7 million tons of freight.
Because a new LNG plant site was located on Barrow Island, a grade 1 environmental heritage island, every piece of freight was subject to stringent quarantine. Each container, flatrack and trailer going to the island was pressure washed and fumigated, while many items of freight were shrink wrapped to prevent the introduction of non-indigenous plant, insect and animal species.
Once out of metro areas in Western Australia, the “road trains” (a series of linked trailers — usually up to 3 — with a single prime mover) could be over 50 meters long and carry in excess of 125 tons per road train.
Agility’s marine base operation supported two heavy lift vessels designed to carry containers and conventional cargoes, as well as six barges. The principal consortium member awarded Agility an “A” rating for its performance on Gorgon.