Dutch firms eye growing markets

September 1, 2013

New vessels, acquisitions, and expertise are driving Dutch growth. Elaine Maslin reports.

Heavylift vessel Fairplayer completed Jumbo’s first contract as a full installation contractor.The Dutch offshore sector is leveraging its engineering and seafaring traditions to grow its presence in the global oil and gas industry.

The sector—including some newer entrants—is eying work in areas from subsea, including deepwater, to LNG; and from transport and installation to operations in Arctic waters. A strong theme is diversification, through acquisition and fleet growth, as Dutch firms look to grow their expertise and portfolios to offer full package services.

Jumbo, for example, has two Finnish-Swedish, Ice Class 1A, K-Class, heavylift vessels on order— one, the Jumbo Kinetic, being built at Brodosplit shipyard in Split, Croatia, and scheduled for delivery last month (August).

With this, and the rest of its fleet, the firm is aiming to become a go-to contractor for combined transport and installation projects, covering mooring spreads and subsea installation, including deepwater and arctic projects, by combining its capabilities, says Michael Kahn, managing director of Jumbo.

“We want to be doing more mooring spreads and large subsea structures like templates and compression modules at 2000-3000m water depth and in new frontier areas like the Arctic,” Kahn says.

“What we see in the market are more floating production units being used, instead of platforms, and field developments in more remote locations, including the Arctic. Also, decommissioning is coming. These markets will grow.”

Jumbo completed its first contract as a full installation contractor earlier last month. This was for the mooring installation, tow-out and hook-up of EnQuest’s EnQuest Producer FPSO, which is due to bring the central North Sea Alma and Galia fields on stream in 4Q this year. The contract included fabrication and installation of anchor piles, as well as pre-tensioning the anchors and bottom chains, and installing the mooring wires and top chains, using Jumbo’s heavylift vessel Fairplayer.

Boskalis Offshore, part of Boskalis and traditionally a dredging business, has also been growing its capabilities, following the integration of fellow- Dutch firm Smit’s salvage business into the business last year, and the purchase of marine-transport firm Dockwise Ltd., earlier this year. Boskalis Director Bas van Bemmelen says, “In my ideal world, we will come to a point where, if you take a new export LNG terminal, we can do everything from dredging the port to building quay walls and relevant infrastructure, as well as the modular transport, logistics, and integration of the LNG facilities.”

Boskalis Offshore would also be involved in offshore and or nearshore work to bring upstream products and infrastructure, such as pipelines, into the terminal.

Boskalis is due to combine its current capabilities on a project for Shell, the Malampaya Phase 3 project, in the Philippines next year. This will see a jackup, depletioncompression platform linked to an existing platform on the Malampaya gas field. A new vessel, the Ndeavor, is one of two new, multipurpose DP2 construction vessels being built for Boskalis. These vessels will be purposely outfitted for the project. This will allow Boskalis to use just one vessel for the majority of the project, from seabed excavation to platform and bridge installation.

The Ndeavor, and its sister vessel, Ndurance, are due to be completed in 2H 2013, with the Ndurance going to Europe for cable laying work. IHC Merwede, which also has its roots in dedging, dating back to the 17th century, is also combining its capabilities to grow its services and offer integrated projects.

Next year, it will deliver the first of two new, 550-tonne, pipelay vessels, being built at its Krimpen aan den IJssel yard, The Netherlands, for TL Offshore, a subsidiary of SapuraKencana.

A third is also being built for Subsea 7 and all three are due to work offshore Brazil installing flexible pipelines. IHC emphasizess that these are the world’s first pipelaying vessels fully integrated by one supplier, with its IHC Engineering Business Ltd. and IHC Drives & Automation BV also supplying vessel components.

Others are introducing new vessels to increase their own fleet and market share. Allseas is planning to make a global splash with its twin-hull, heavylift vessel Piewter Schelte (OE, May 2013), targeting entire topsides decommissioning, for up to 48,000 tonnes, and pipelay services.

Damen’s new AHTS 200 vessel design is capable of working in 3000m deep water.Heerema Marine Contractors’ new deepwater-construction vessel, Aegir, based on an Ulstein Sea of Solutions SOC 5000 design (OE, April 2012), is due to start operations in 2H 2013. It will be able to carry out installation and pipeline projects in ultra-deep water, with sufficient lifting capacity to install fixed platforms in shallower water.

Damen Shipyards is also growing its oil and gas offshore offering, through the introduction of a new fleet, (see sidebar).

Activity in the region is attracting investment. A division of COSCO, COSCO Shipping Europe, opened its new offices in Rotterdam in May. Trading as COSCO Heavy Transport, it markets and provides technical support worldwide to COSCO Shipping Co.’s fleet of semisubmersible heavylift vessels.

With the Arctic in their sights, subsea installation (and transportation) firmly on the radar and global operations from Europe to the Phillippines, expect to see more of the Dutch in the offshore oil and gas sector. OE

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