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Houston Chronicle

May 2015 fuel fix OTC article featuring Containerhouse.

Offshore digs range from plain to plush
By Gabrielle Banks | May 5, 2015 | Updated: May 5, 2015 10:29pm


Among the hundreds of industry-specific exhibitors at the Offshore Technology Conference, a tiny fraction are in the business of providing offshore oil workers a safe, clean place to rest when they're not on duty. With no access to terrestrial conveniences, employees also need specially tailored places to bathe, eat, exercise, congregate, do laundry and relieve themselves.

Most living spaces on offshore facilities are customized according to the clients' needs and how much money they have to spend. Each is a world unto itself, a manmade homestead in the ocean with no prior occupants. So it follows that the particulars of how each company populates its platforms vary greatly.

Accommodations range from simple barracks to multistory apartment-style modules equipped with cafeterias, gyms, cinemas, rec rooms and private bedrooms with highend furnishings.

At the affordable end of the spectrum is Containerhouse International, a manufacturer in La Porte with 25 employees that has been re-purposing used cargo containers since 1975 for defense industries and petrochemical companies.

"We are not a mass producer," said George J. Vernau Jr., president. "Our specialty is smaller buildings. Our angle is temporary, for short-term assignments on a smaller platform." His company recently manufactured six group dormitories for a platform operation by Hess off the coast of Equatorial Guinea.

He described the living units as "low frills." Each 40-by-10-foot weatherproof unit houses eight occupants in bunk beds and has two sinks, two toilets, two showers, a hot water heater, air conditioning, insulation, heating, plumbing and wiring as well as fire and gas detection devices. The company manufactures its own windows for the dorms.

The steel walled unit has standard Twistlocks on its four corners so it can connect to the deck, or some clients opt to weld it to the platform.

Those basic units cost $60,000, but, Vernau said, they haven't fully penetrated the market.

"It could save you a lot of money, and it's turnkey," he said.

At the other end of the offshore housing spectrum are the modular buildings manufactured by Tozzi Industries, an Italian company with subsidiaries in Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Mozambique, France, Germany, Chile and Brazil.

Tozzi is one of several companies that assemble living quarters that are comfortable and also blast-proof, weatherproof, fireproof and deluxe. They may include rec rooms, dining rooms, laundry rooms and a variety of other amenities. The massive structures are welded together, section by section, into one building.

Tozzi ships these structures, which often include a helipad on top, by barge and the clients lift them by crane onto their decks. Tozzi takes care of the furnishings as well.

The accommodations and shared facilities offered depend entirely on the customers' wishes. Each module is made to order, assembled at Tozzi's headquarters in Ravenna, 60 miles south of Venice, Italy.

Tozzi has been making these metal modules since 2000. The company's last order involved fabricating 26 of the modules for offshore operations in Kazakhstan.

Liano Lattanzio, sales manager at Tozzi, said the units sell for around $10 million.

Other vendors at OTC provide a variety of additional support services for the rigs, including lighting, incinerators, refrigeration, water filtration, sewage and wastewater treatment.

One operation, Hepburn Bio Care, has catered to cruise ship companies and is making its initial forays into offshore energy operations. Hepburn sells biodegradable, noncorrosive, phosphate-free concentrated solutions that turn wastewater into clean, nonpotable water that meets environmental standards to go back into the ocean.

"Our products reduce the smell, reduce the complaints, reduce the amount of sludge that gets dumped and reduce the level of contamination," said Chris Tzikas, a representative for the company.


Reposted from The Houston Chronicle on May 5th, 2015. Original article can be found here.