Autumn 2002 (10.3)
Petroleum: Pipeline Contracts
Nearly Finished with Upgrades of SPS Facility
On November 1, 2001, McDermott Caspian
Contractors (MCCI), the Caspian arm of J. Ray McDermott, S.A.,
signed contracts with the Azerbaijan International Operating
Company (AIOC) for the fabrication and installation of a 14,000-ton
integrated deck and offshore installation of 186km of export
pipeline and three shorter in-field pipelines for AIOC's Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli
Phase 1 project.
Before construction began on the deck, MCCI had to undertake
major upgrades of SOCAR's ShelfProjectStroy (SPS) fabrication
yard, which included building offices, refurbishing workshops,
purchasing equipment and constructing medical facilities, canteen
and dedicated training facilities, altogether an investment of
more than US$20 million. In addition, MCCI has invested more
than US$80,000 in a welding school to develop skills for new
The KMNF shipyard's pipelay barge, the Israfil Huseinov, and
the quayside at SPS were also upgraded. In a refurbishment costing
more than US$30 million, the barge underwent dry dock repairs,
and new equipment was purchased and installed to upgrade its
capabilities. Handled safely and efficiently by Azerbaijan's
local subcontractors, upgrades of SPS are almost complete, although
work on the barge will continue until April 2003.
Along with the upgrades, a specialist workforce had to be recruited
and trained to operate the facility and handle project work.
By hiring from a pool of qualified Azerbaijani craftsmen and
professionals, MCCI was able to draw heavily from the local workforce;
more than 82 percent of its skilled craftsmen come from Azerbaijan.
"At MCCI we recognize that our employees are our most important
asset. We are committed to taking all necessary measures to ensure
the success of the entire project for AIOC, its partners and
the people of Azerbaijan," said Clint Anderson, general
manager of MCCI. "We are dedicating a great deal of time
to recruiting the best Azerbaijani craftsmen and professionals,
and we are committed to their training, development and fair
treatment, at all levels.
"To ensure that our workforce can work safely and efficiently
according to international standards, we have developed training
programs for craftsmen, engineers and project management personnel
in Baku and at our regional headquarters in Dubai.
"This training adds to the competency of the individual
and the group as a whole, and leads to safer, more efficient
workers and working environments," explained Anderson.
MCCI's training department has developed a detailed plan based
on thorough Training Needs Analysis. Specific programs address
theoretical and practical requirements covering safety, scaffolding,
welding, fitting, electrical wiring, firefighting, first aid
and Englishto name but a few. Employees choose the language
of their instruction: Azeri, Russian or English. During these
training periods, workers receive full wages.
"We want everyone involved with this project to be aware
of the dangers that are ever-present in the construction industry,"
said Anderson. "As always, safety is our top priority. We
conduct a five-day safety induction for all personnel working
at the yard, including full-time MCCI employees and subcontractors."
This orientation covers company policies and procedures, quality,
safety and medical issues, as well as craft - specific "safe
working practices". Participants sign a contract confirming
that they will follow a safety code of conduct and watch out
for serious safety breaches. Personnel who do not pass the test
are counseled and immediately retrained. The orientation is followed
by skill assessments and a minimum of 80 hours of craft - specific
At the start of the project, more than 200 Azerbaijani personnel
visited McDermott's "working" fabrication yard in Dubai
for on-the-job training. "There was some initial resistance
by employees to undertake these courses," Anderson said,
"but they soon realized that they had something positive
to learn and that there were better, more productive and safer
ways of working." Employees also found that by enhancing
their skills and abilities with training programs, they bettered
their chances of promotion and salary increases. Some employees
have already been acknowledged and promoted.
MCCI encourages employee participation in HSE (Health, Safety
and the Environment) awareness and accident/incident prevention.
Trained observers within the workforce study and document work
situations to identify safety-related trends so that proactive
safety programs can be developed. Employees' proactive efforts
are recognized and rewarded.
"More than 1,000 Azerbaijanis have already been employed
by MCCI since we started work at SPS," Anderson said. "Thanks
to the training and experience of our safety plans, there have
been no lost-time accidents." In AIOC's Phase 1 Full Field
Development project, MCCI plans to provide jobs for more than
1,300 Azerbaijani personnel.
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