Location, location, location

Mike Hood and Meg Chesshyre
Thursday, December 1, 2011

Offshore rig and vessel repair continues to produce attractive returns for yards that are well placed strategically and geographically. OE checks out the latest developments at two players – one in Bahrain, the other in Gibraltar – still relatively new to the offshore oil & gas industry yet making significant market inroads. Reports by Mike Hood and Meg Chesshyre.

Since starting operations in September 2008, the specialist offshore oil & gas division ASRY Offshore Services (AOS) of Bahrain's Arab Shipbuilding & Repair Yard (ASRY) has gone from strength to strength with the division now one of the region's leading repairers of jackup rigs.

The development of ASRY into one of the region's leading shiprepairers and providers of marine services is now into its fourth decade. Now a leading player in the repair and maintenance of all types of ships as well as offshore rigs and craft, ASRY provides a complete range of services from steel fabrication to pipe repairs and production, engineering & machining, instrumentation engineering, blasting through to painting.

The yard has always repaired vessels from the offshore sector, but not many rigs. A niche in the market was seen in the first decade of the 21st century and the decision was taken to establish a dedicated offshore division which would not just look at rig repairs but also further afield into the areas of offshore fabrication and construction. So AOS was formed in September 2008 (OE December 2008).

Now under the watchful eye of offshore services general manager Andy Shaw, who joined the division in August 2009, AOS is handling the increasing demand for offshore oil & gas related work from the refurbishment and upgrade of jackup rigs to specialist offshore craft. Shaw has set his sights high with a dynamic and sustainable business strategy and is looking to take AOS into the building and fabrication of offshore and onshore structures as well as specialist services such as ‘in-field repairs'.

In 2009 the division repaired a total of seven jackups plus a further six rigs stacked in ASRY's protective anchorage. The following year it successfully repaired 10 jackups, with the work on these rigs being more complex and significantly larger in terms of value than the previous year. 2011 turned out to be an even bigger year for jackup repair work, not just in numbers, but also in value.

Jackup repairs carried out last year included: Saudi Aramco's Arabiyah 7; Transocean's Key Hawaii; Ensco Oceanics International's ENSCO 96; Pride International's Pride MontanaPride North Dakota and Pride Hawaii; Arab Drilling Co's ADC 17; Great Offshore's Kedarnath; NPCC's SEP 350; Hercules Offshore's Hercules 170 and Foresight Drilling's FD V.

The largest jackup repair completed in 2010 was on Pride North Dakota, with the work package on this rig including installation of a new reverse osmosis plant and additional air compressor, 84t of steel renewal, major modification and painting of helideck to meet CAP 437 7 SA requirements, major repairs to the raw water tower, and full accommodation refurbishment. The year also saw another large refurbishment and upgrade job completed on the jackup Kedarnath, owned by India's Great Offshore.

Notable jackup assignments undertaken by AOS so far this year have included the refurbishment and upgrade Rowan Offshore's Bob Palmer, Saudi Aramco's Arabiyah 6, ONGC's Sagar Uday and ENSCO 94, and the yard also welcomed back the Hercules 170 as well as ENSCO 76, 84, 96 and 97, Transocean's GSF Key Hawaii, and Saipem's Perro Negro 7 for general repair work.

The work package for many of these rigs included specific jobs to equip them for work offshore in Saudi Arabian waters, and in particular to meet Saudi Aramco regulations. Such was the case with Rowan's Bob Palmer, one of the world's largest jackups. Having been chartered to Saudi Aramco for three years, this 2003-built LeTourneau Super Gorilla XL 224-C unit underwent a large package modifications and upgrades between January and June this year to enable the rig to undertake its new charter. The work included fabrication and installation of 18 new mud pit agitators; helideck reconfiguration; removal and replacement of the heat tracking system; removal, treatment and refitting of its cantilever extension structures; fabrication and installation of flare boom and king post pipelines; fabrication and installation of a mosque module and the installation of 2700m of high pressure pipe.

‘The challenge is to make AOS the preferred service provider of choice for rig repairs and maintenance services for the region,' says Andy Shaw. ‘Business is already increasing for 2011, with Foresight Drilling, Saipem and Rowan Drilling among the division's new customers.

‘In recent years, ASRY has entered a new phase of its development with the progressive expansion and enlargement of its infrastructure and facilities helping strengthen its performance and service capabilities. This expansion is vital for the shiprepair and maintenance activities at the yard and fundamental to the longterm development strategy for AOS.'

Already a large section of the new 1.38km repair quay wall is in service and this new purpose-built facility is expected to be fully operation by the end of the year. It will be able to accept ships up to ULCC size alongside, as well as drilling rigs and includes 200,000m2 for offshore fabrications and a heavy loadout quay, all part of an overall $188 million facility expansion programme.

The heavy loadout quay has been specifically developed to enable AOS to penetrate the offshore fabrication and new construction market, in particular flare tower, jacket and topside module fabrication work. The area will also be equipped with general facilities such as workshops, secure warehousing and offices.

The end of 2011 will also see the delivery of the first of four 40t bollard pull tugs for ASRY, built in-house.

Shaw reports that he is also broadening the skills base of his AOS team, bringing in additional specialist expertise and building up on the existing core team. He expects the team to be up to full strength by the end of the year and it will be focusing particularly on further developing the engineering capabilities needed to deliver a total service for its clients.

‘For AOS, our location is the key as well as increasing awareness for our capabilities in Bahrain on a regional basis,' says Shaw. ‘We are striving to maintain our competitive edge in an increasingly aggressive market place with a growing client base. AOS is looking for sustainable business over the long-term and investing accordingly to develop our range of services. These substantial investments in offshore services infrastructure and capabilities are resulting in sustainable growth and a significant increase in business,' he concludes. MH

Rock solid growth

Gibdock, the Gibraltar-based former naval shipyard, is increasingly targeting the offshore vessel sector. Commercial director Richard Beards says the yard is in a good geographical position for vessels sailing from North to South, from the North Sea to West Africa and to Brazil, and vice versa, and in and out of the Mediterrenean.

The yard's share of this market has grown from just under 10% to 26% of its business in the last couple of years. Traditionally it has been a ‘hair cut and shave' yard, but over the last three to four years it has taken on more conversion work. It is looking at bigger jobs, where clients demand more added value out of their dockings, and is building partnerships and long-term relationships with vessel owners such as DOF, Hallin, Maersk Offshore, Sea Lion and Solstad. It is also hoping to expand further to include work on rigs and land-based fabrication.

Beards notes that for growing the business ‘we are obviously limited to an extent to the footprint and facilities that we have, but we are looking at offshore fabrication and oil rigs as the next step for us and a natural progression from doing offshore supply vessels. We are geared up for that. We have the quay space. We have land areas with direct access straight onto the water front, and the drydocks, and a good water depth for rigs'.

According to Beards, one of Gibdock's strengths in terms of offshore vessel work is its use of dock blocks, which can change the height that the vessel is docked on from 2m to 3.6-4m depending on requirement. This also allows thrusters removal. Drydock number three, which is 150m by 29m, a good size for the offshore supply vessel industry, has a retractable cover with a 29.5m clearance, good for 24-hour working and quality paint jobs.

Bookings for drydocking are often last minute and Beards says the market is still very short-term. He still sees the same level of enquiries and hit rate as two or three years ago, although a bit more confidence is coming back into the market. The container market is still depressed on the drydocking front, which adds to the interest in the offshore sector.

‘There is always time pressure on these contracts,' he explains. ‘Our flexibility and ability to change is part of ship repairing and conversion. If they can come in a day early, then out a day early, then the reward to them of their daily charter rate is huge. It might be that we do a full on drydocking and conversion for a vessel going on a contract, or a threeday alongside port call for mobilisation and demobilisation, or to take on a new piece of equipment. We don't just have drydocks we have wharf space, and we try to offer a one-stop shop to our clients.'

Gibdock, renamed in 2009, has invested £5 million in the last three years on both physical improvement of the yard and human resources and training. The main pumps that operate the docks have been refurbished. The workshop has a new roof. Docks two and three have had new crane rails, a challenging undertaking while keeping the docks operational. It required taking the cranes out of service, and the use of mobile cranes.

With the support of the Gibraltar government, Gibdock has run a fouryear apprenticeship scheme since 1998, a legacy from the UK Ministry of Defence days. A lot of the managers in the yard are MoD trained, giving them a high standard of technical ability and quality of work ethic, says Beards, who joined the yard in 1998. ‘We are probably one of the few yards that maintains its apprenticeship scheme,' he adds. ‘We've got senior project managers that have come through our apprenticeship scheme. It is nice to see people coming through the ranks into senior positions that you have trained in-house.' MC

Comings and Goings: This year, for Solstad, the yard has carried out concersion and drydocking on the Normand Vester, on its way to Brazil, and survey and repair work on the Normand Cutter following a spell in West Africa. The precious year it carried out conversion work on Solstad'sNormand Trym and Normand Viran. Last year it also docked Geoholm for DOF en route to Brazil. Boa Offshore's Boa Galatea called in druing September for a 10-day drydocking en route to West Africa. This is a new client for Gibdock. OE

Categories: Construction Middle East Engineering

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