Graha jumps to it with jackups

December 15, 2009

Earlier this year, Indonesia’s Graha yard launched its first newbuild jackup rigs. Jennifer Pallanich talks to owner Drydocks World about the the yard’s journey so far and its plans for the future.

Drydocks World bought Labroy Marine’s Graha facility on Indonesia’s Batam Island in early 2008, work having started there on the yard’s first newbuild jackup a few months earlier. As the yard got to work on the rig, the new owner discovered that the previous management had no system in place for measuring progress.

‘When we came here, it was a bit of a surprise, coming from Dubai,’ says Mark Biggs, Drydocks World – Southeast Asia managing director. ‘But we said, let’s sort this out and make a difference. And I think we are making a difference.’

perro negroLaunch of the Perro Negro 6.

As Biggs puts it, under the old guard ‘a job was finished when it was finished’. With delivery dates to meet, the executives knew they must implement some changes.

grahaThe Graha yard delivered Perro Negro 6 – a new-generation MSC CJ46-X100D jackup drilling rig – to Saipem (Portugal) Comercio Maritimo Sociedade Unipessoal on 2 October. Equipped for HP/HT drilling environments, the rig has 350ft water depth and 30,000ft drilling depth capabilities.

‘It’s been painful, coming from nothing,’ Biggs says. ‘It’s starting to work quite well. People are starting to see the benefit of [project management].’ The system, developed by the flagship Drydocks World facility in Dubai, is an enterprise resource planning system designed in-house. Named Mariner, it measures hours worked and links engineering design to the planning and purchasing systems so kit or supplies arrive when they are needed, Biggs says. ‘All it told us in the beginning was bad news, but news that we needed to know.’

Following the philosophy that whatever can be measured can be improved, the executives got down to business at all three shipyards Drydocks World owns on Batam Island, a short ferry ride from Singapore where the company owns a fourth yard. One of Biggs’ goals is to see further integration between the three Batam Island yards. For instance, he says, ‘we can operate with more strength by combining functions’, like purchasing.

So far, the company has standardized many procedures across its facilities on Batam. ‘Whatever we’re doing in one yard, we do in all three,’ Biggs says. He notes that boilersuits, for example, were not standard at the three yards. Now they are. Further, Biggs says, pay scales have been put in place for the company’s employees, so ‘a welder doesn’t merely get paid as a welder – there is a difference according to his skill set’.

More improvements are expected – the company has just opened a training center that will serve about 200 trainees at a time. The Drydocks World Batam training center boasts 14 classrooms and 11 workshops.

‘All employees across all three existing Batam yards will undergo “baseline” training in their respective skills. Thereafter, enhancement training will be carried out in order to improve an employee’s skills and thus their potential earning power,’ Biggs says. ‘An apprenticeship scheme will commence in January 2010 whereby young school leavers will be able to take up a career in the areas of ship building, ship repair, and offshore fabrication. Our existing employees’ dependents will always have priority within this scheme when places are limited.’

Biggs says ‘steel work will be catered for’, adding that other disciplines will also receive plenty of teaching time. The intention is to make the center available to offspring of company employees and then open it to the wider population through sponsorship programs in association with schools.

Through the company’s apprenticeship program, apprentices are taken on at the age of 16, says Geoff Taylor, executive chairman of Drydocks World. At 18, they are guided down a skill line. ‘It will give them a broad-based understanding of working in a shipyard and what goes on in a shipyard,’ Taylor says.

Now the three yards – Pertama, purchased in 2007, and Graha and Nanindah, both purchased in 2008 – are among the island’s top four payers in comparable industry and employee turnover has dropped substantially, Biggs says. Graha ‘was sort of a training yard for the other yards, but we’ve addressed that,’ adds Taylor.

The yards have ‘plenty of work in hand, but we need to start getting work soon,’ Biggs says, noting Graha has a backlog through to 1Q 2011. ‘We need to get orders, same as everybody else. There’s some interesting work out there.’

And Drydocks World’s Graha yard has been pretty busy at its own interesting work – fabricating the first jackups to be made in Indonesia. ‘Everyone said it couldn’t be done in Indonesia. Well it can, and there’s the proof of it,’ Biggs says.

In late 2007, the Graha yard began working on two jackups, one for UMW Standard Drilling and one for Saipem, the Perro Negro 6. In 2Q 2008, work began on a second jackup for UMW, then on a further jackup for Saipem, both to be delivered by the end of this year. All four of these jackups are based on Gusto designs and feature three legs.

The yard is also working on two ‘Service Jack’ jackup construction vessels for Norway’s Master Marine. The first of these four-legged units is slated for delivery in January next year and will go into service in accommodation ‘jacktel’ mode for ConocoPhillips at Greater Ekofisk in the North Sea. The second, to be delivered mid-2010, has been contracted by StatoilHydro and Statkraft for installation work on the UK’s Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm (OE September).

One building strategy the Graha yard adopted in fabricating the jackups is to ‘do everything on the ground’, building pieces and then lifting them on board, Biggs says. Before, the yard would build everything on the rig. This change in build strategy reduced risk to personnel and resulted in faster, easier construction, according to the company. The yard did increase the skill set of the available workforce. According to the company, many employees thought they were welders, but were in fact ‘melting steel’. The company said it has expended significant time, money and effort to raise the standards in all disciplines.

At the neighboring Nanindah yard, which has 18 building berths and three floating docks, the company is constructing a jackup for a windfarm, several anchor handlers, a PSV, offshore support vessels, a crane barge, a cement carrier, and a pair of cattle carriers. There is also a light duty offshore drilling unit under construction for Swift Drilling, a JV between Self Elevating Platforms and GDF Suez Energy, that is expected to go to work for Shell in the Southern North Sea.

Based on a Gusto design, the self elevating platform is an attractive proposition for marginal fields, notes Biggs. ‘The concept is very good,’ Biggs says, adding that at one point Drydocks World was a large customer of Gusto. ‘We did have nine vessels under construction of their design.’ Nearly half of those had been delivered by the time this article went to press.

At the Pertama yard, which concentrates more on ship repair and conversion activities, three AHTS and one very large offshore construction vessel are being built.

The industry will have a long-term need for jackups and semis, Biggs says, but orders have been slow because of the cycle. ‘Each time it comes back, it generally comes back stronger,’ he says.

Biggs also sees more opportunities in the wind and wave energy markets. ‘If it’s steel, we can make it. I don’t care if it’s on top or underneath the sea. We can make it,’ he declares. OE

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