Autumn 2019

Sand, sea and LNG in Mozambique

Subtech is working on a major project in Mozambique, preparing for the development of a major new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant set to supply a cleaner form of energy to the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.

This plant will be one of the largest greenfield LNG facilities to have ever been approved and at 23 billion dollars, its development represents Africa’s biggest single investment.

It is expected to be transformational for Mozambique one of the poorest nations on earth beset by economic crisis and conflict stemming from a civil war.

When the facility is complete, gas will be extracted from an offshore field in Northern Mozambique, pumped ashore to be liquefied, before being exported by LNG tankers.

Seabed preparation

As the first subcontractor on the project, Subtech has been involved with the engineering and design of a temporary structure that will support the execution of early activities at the site.

With no rock available to use as foundations for the construction, Subtech engineers have designed a solution using sand recovered from the facility’s access channel to fill geotextile tubes and cellular sheet piles and caissons.

Sand filled Geotextile bags will form the binding structure of a 600m causeway which will be compacted with a layer of geocells (polymer ‘boxes’ which can be filled with sand to form a strong and resilient honeycomb-like structure) and aggregate to eventually form the base of the road surface.

In preparation for the work, Subtech construction barges will be loaded with all the required plant and equipment and then towed from Durban to the site near Palma on the coast of Northern Mozambique by the Subtech tug, Ndongeni.

Managing director Gert Muller says:

‘We realised we would need to dredge 570,000m3 of sand (enough to fill more than 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools) to take the current seabed profile to the required depth so we decided to invest in a state-of-the-art cutter suction dredger vessel to help with the job.’

The site will eventually support an onshore LNG plant, storage tanks, a load-out jetty and wharf, a materials offloading facility, and onshore pipelines, as well as support structures including accommodation villages.

Developing the local economy

It is hoped that the revenue from these natural gas resources will provide unique opportunities to enhance economic activity in Mozambique and contribute to sustainable national growth. It should provide opportunities for infrastructure improvements, employment (the project is expected to create more than 5,000 direct jobs and 45,000 indirect jobs), contributions toward poverty alleviation, education and training.

Certainly, Subtech is employing a large local workforce. There are currently 23 Mozambique staff on the Subtech team, most of which will be supporting this project, and at its peak, it is anticipated that Subtech will have more than 100 locally-sourced personnel on site.

‘Part of the project requirement is that unskilled and semi-skilled labour force come from the Cabo Delgado region where the facility is being built,’

Explains Gert.

Subtech has been contracted by the joint venture company CCSJV Mozambique for this stage of the project, which is due to be completed in June 2020, but the team and the wider James Fisher group anticipates close involvement with the LNG development over the next five to ten years.

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