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Image: Saipem logoThe Italian oil company, ENI, is the controlling shareholder (43 percent) in this oil and gas contractor which is headquartered in Milan and listed on the Milan stock exchange. It offers services worldwide in onshore and offshore exploration, construction and drilling.

Saipem was founded in 1957 through the merger of Snam Montaggi and a drilling contractor, SAIP. The company began by providing services for ENI but from 1960 began operating autonomously and offering services outside the group.  Following the acquisition of several engineering companies over the last decade, (most notably of Snamprogetti, Bouygues Offshore and Sofresid) Saipem has become one of the world’s largest engineering and construction companies in the oil and gas sector.

In Uganda, Saipem’s Exploration and Construction Division is poised to offer complete services in the development of infrastructure, including the refinery, pipeline and transport  links, as oil discoveries are turned into production.

However, until the government and international oil companies reach final agreement on a basin development and marketing plan for the Albertine Graben discoveries, Saipem’s  Uganda office remains in start-up mode, with just a small team of five staff (all Ugandan).  Meanwhile, the company is bidding for feasibility studies and consultancy work with the government.

The Saipem cv

Saipem’s expertise and experience lies in the following main areas:

Oil Refining  Saipem has designed and built 37 oil refineries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as well as more than 500 individual process units in almost every corner of the world.

Onshore Transportation Systems  In the design and construction of land pipeline systems and associated field upstream facilities, Saipem ranks amongst the largest contractors in the world, having designed and laid almost 100,000 km of land pipelines on five continents.  Notably, over more than 60 years it built the entire gas supply system for Snam Rete Gas S.p.A., to bring gas to Italy from Russia, the North Sea, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, as well as the internal Italian gas distribution network.

Gas and Oil Production and Processing  Saipem offers complex integrated solutions for large upstream facilities including oil & gas production, treatment and processing plants, pipeline systems, pumping and compressor stations, as well as marine terminals.

Power  Saipem has designed and built over 40 single and combined–cycle power plants with a total capacity exceeding 10,000 MW. This has included four Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle plants, two of which—for ISAB Energy and Sarlux, both in Italy—are still the world’s largest, with a power output of about 550 MW each.

Renewables and Environment  Saipem offers integrated environmental and remediation technologies and services, for example to decontaminate old industrial sites, abate noxious emissions, purify water, etc. This activity is often connected with infrastructural undertakings as well as with new investments in power production from renewable sources (solar, wind and biomass) or from municipal or other waste.

East African precedents

In East Africa, Saipem is involved in several components of the LAPSSET (Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia) transport corridor from Lamu, in Kenya, through South Sudan and to Ethiopia. The project involves the building of a port at Manda Bay, three airports, a standard gauge railway line to Juba, a road network, oil pipelines expected to cost US$ 4 billion, and a US$ 2.5 billion oil refinery in Lama that will have a refining capacity of 120,000 barrels of oil per day.

The LAPSET project, originally conceived in 1975 but later shelved, was revived in the late 2000s.  Its cost was estimated at US$ 16 billion in 2009 but more recent estimates have risen to US$ 22 billion.

Saipem is also one of the partners, along with Tamoil East Africa and Habib Oil, contracted to build a 1,200 kilometre pipeline between Kampala and Mombasa. This project is currently on hold, until it is decided whether or not a refinery will be built in Uganda. If a refinery is built in Uganda, further infrastructure such as geothermal plants, airstrips and roads are envisaged as construction works that Saipem will be in a position to service.

For more, see the company websiteReport by Chantal Sirisena