Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 5th 2017 Contents BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt JANUARY 5 • 2017
Despite suffering a series of
labour eruptions in 2015 at
its fabrication yard on the La
Brea Industrial Estate, Trin-
idad Offshore Fabrication
Company (Tofco) managed
to complete the construction of the topside
of the Juniper platform on time and on budget.
"It took us roughly 26 months to complete
the Juniper platform. We are quite proud of
what we were able to accomplish on this project
and its successful completion represents the
hard work, skill and dedication of all Tofco em-
ployees involved in its construction," said the
company's general manager Javeed Mohammed
in an interview with the Business Guardian.
Constructing a platform the size of Juniper
no doubt comes with its fair share of challeng-
es. One challenge that garnered a measure of
public attention was related to labour, with
protesting taking place outside the compa-
ny's compound during the initial phase of the
The Trinidad Guardian reported that in 2015
Tofco lost 97 days through industrial unrest
and delays in the import of material result-
ing in the company hiring a Texas company to
construct the jacket and piles for the Juniper
platform, a project that bpTT, for which the
platform is being built, is depending on to
contribute to a resolution of the natural gas
curtailment issue that has plagued T&T for
the last four years.
Addressing this situation Mohammed, a 21
year energy-industry veteran, said:
"In the initial stage of the project, there was
a greater supply of labour available than the
work that was required to be done at the time.
This created a small sense of disquiet in the
La Brea community whereby it was felt that
Tofco---being one of the largest employer of
residents in the community when we have work
going on---was turning away people from the
area seeking employment. However, as the
project matured, more jobs became available
and spots were filled from the pool of labour
available in the community."
Mohammed added that outside of the la-
bour issue, dealing with the engineering and
materials aspect of the project proved to be
larger hurdles to overcome.
"One of the biggest challenges for us in this
project was dealing with scope growth, and out
of sequence work that had to be managed dur-
ing the construction of the platform, mainly
driven by our engineering mandates. To main-
tain our schedule, because of these engineering
mandates, additional labour had to be sourced.
At the peak of construction of the platform we
had up to 750 employees."
Mohammed also pointed out that along with
growth in the scope of work required, time-
liness in the delivery of material also proved
"We experienced some delays in the deliv-
ery of materials and this forced us to make a
business decision to redirect a portion of the
work to outside of T&T. In spite of this, how-
ever, we were still able to remain on course and
complete the project on time."
In assessing the local offshore fabrication
industry, Mohammed pointed out that sustain-
ability of work was a major factor that needed
to be addressed.
"Before Juniper, the last platform we built
was completed in 2010 which was BP's Serrette
Platform. So between 2010 and 2014, there was
no major platform construction and fabrication
activity taking place in T&T. We believe that
critical to the development of local content
in the energy sector is sustainability of work,
particularly as it relates to offshore fabrica-
tion where Tofco and, by extension, T&T for
that matter has shown time and time again
we have the engineering and fabricating skill
and talent necessary to do world-class work.
Approximately 97 per cent of the labour force
on the Juniper platform was local."
Questioned about whether the company
could compete with providers in the Gulf of
Mexico in terms of production cost, Moham-
med stated that the company was very close.
"We are not there yet, but we are very close
to being as cost competitive with the Gulf of
Mexico as possible."
The Tofco executive was quick to point out,
however, that despite no major platform con-
struction activity taking place during that time,
the company was able to successfully diversify
its operations into other related areas.
"While no major greenfield (platform con-
struction) activity was happening between
2010 and 2014, we were able to diversify into
other brownfield areas of work. So, during that
period, particularly around 2012, we became
actively involved in doing electrical and in-
strumentation work which was previously
subcontracted, and even doing maintenance
of onshore and offshore facilities."
With the recent discovery of oil off the coast
of Guyana, and given T&T's over 100 years of
experience in the oil and gas industry, it seems
a natural fit for local companies to become in-
volved in the development of the Guyanese
Probed about whether Tofco had explored
any opportunities in Guyana, he said: "We are
keen on getting involved and looking at every
opportunity whether direct or indirect to build
our business. We have done regional and ex-
tra-regional work before, so once opportunities
present themselves for us to get involved it is
something that we would definitely consider."
Mohammed noted that Tofco's contribution
to T&T was even broader than its role in the
local energy sector.
"We are a net earner of foreign exchange, so
beyond our contribution to the local energy
sector we generate foreign exchange for the
Operating in the offshore construction in-
dustry requires special attention to ensuring
worker safety. With its motto of "Be Your
, Tofco has a safety record
that in any regard could be described as im-
Questioned about this Mohammed said: "We
have completed over two million man hours
of work without a loss time injury. In our 13
years of existence we've only had 12 recordable
injuries and our recordable rating is 0.36 which
is quite low by OSH standards and something
that we are quite proud off. We take worker
safety very seriously."
Outside of its expertise in major offshore
construction, Tofco has become woven into
the social fabric of La Brea. As one of the more
economically depressed communities in T&T,
La Brea has benefitted from the presence of the
company in the area. Its contribution to the
area, as part of its corporate social responsi-
bility, according to Mohammed, is something
the company takes quite seriously.
"We believe very strongly in making a posi-
tive contribution to the La Brea community. We
are the largest employer of La Brea residents
when we have work going on, and we work very
closely with the National Energy Skills Centre
(NESC) in the area to support programs that
ensure that the skills required for work with
us are available and that the residents of the
area could seize those opportunities. We also
offer our own in-house training once those who
have qualified for work receive jobs with us.
"We're also involved in various sponsorship
and social causes in the area and we've even
done repair work for school in the area. So
we view our role in La Brea as more than just
"We are interested in the holistic develop-
ment of the area."
general manager, Tofco
Nestled deep in the La Brea Industri-
al Estate resides a company that for the
past 13 years, stands as a testament to
the skill and ability of local engineers
and fabricators to accomplish world-
Trinidad Offshore Fabrication Com-
pany (Tofco) has been the provider of
choice for upstream companies in the
energy sector for all their platform con-
struction and fabrication needs.
Situated on 21 acres of prime port real
estate in the country's south-western
peninsula, the company recently com-
pleted its largest project to date: a 5,600
tonne platform for bpTT known as Ju-
In a wide ranging interview with the
Business Guardian, discusses the chal-
lenges of building a platform the size and
scale of Juniper, its contribution to the
community of La Brea, and the compa-
ny's role in the local energy sector.
To date, Tofco (a joint venture between
Louisiana-based Chet Morrison and
T&T-based Weldfab) has constructed
nine offshore platforms, inclusive of
Juniper, from its facility in La Brea.
From its first platform in 2004, bpTT's
Cannonball, the company has gone on to
do work for companies such as BG (now
Shell) and EOG in the upstream explo-
ration and production segment of the
Juniper, by far, represents the com-
pany's biggest engineering feat to date.
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