Ready for the upturn

Nieuw-Lekkerland-headquartered Bayards, a key player in the offshore aluminium industry, is seeing early signs that the recession's grip on major oil & gas projects may at last be loosening.

‘The market is coming back,' reports the company's commercial director Dick de Kluijver. ‘With the economic crisis came a lull in big project work, but we are now seeing more of these projects coming out of the refrigerator and being heated up again.'

Market diversification over the years helped insulate Bayards from oil & gas sector cutbacks, with other industries such as defence and shipping taking up the slack. Nevertheless, the company's main offshore offering – high-spec aluminium helidecks supplied in kit form and assembled under the supervision of Bayards personnel – has continued to make global market inroads even in the recent tough times. The custom-made kits come complete down to the last nut or bolt and are outfitted with walkways, fire fighting, lighting and refuelling systems. In the company's helideck order book currently are kits for Brazil, Russia, India, Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and various European destinations including Italy, the Netherlands, France, the UK and Spain. Other Bayards products include accommodation units, stair towers and antenna modules.

‘With the market circumstances as they are we are quite satisfied, and we have good forecasts for upcoming work,' says de Kluijver. But he concedes it may be a while before another ‘big, exciting story like Valhall' comes along. That order, received prior to the recession and completed last year, called among other things for the industry's first aluminium heli hangar.

Designed by Mustang in Houston, this 20m x 17m x 9m structure for the BP Norge Valhall Re-development project's new integrated production and accommodation platform gave Bayards the chance to employ its innovative friction stir welding technology (OE April).

The Valhall work involved a team of 30 and absorbed some 20,000 manhours. It was undertaken mainly in the 90m-long fabrication hall of Bayards' Heijningen factory south of Rotterdam and de Kluijver says having dual fabrication facilities gives the company a real advantage when it comes to tendering large offshore projects.

Bayards opened a new sales office in Houston this April, installing Tristan Mackintosh as its first North America area sales manager. ‘You have to be there,' says de Kluijver. ‘The new office brings us closer to clients based in Houston and the Gulf, ensuring direct and prompt contact in the same time zone while extending our geographical reach. I am sure, very soon, it will enjoy the same high reputation in the offshore marketplace as the mother company has established over the past 25 years. We are looking for continued growth in the offshore sector. Our strategy in the helideck world is to get a bigger piece of the market by offering good quality and good service at a competitive piece. We are proactive to the market, proactive to our clients and proactive to our product.'

To that end, the new US operation has already secured some notable contracts, including one via EPC contractor WorleyParsons for an aluminium helideck plus support structure for the Sakhalin II development in the Russian far east. As well as being able to accommodate helicopters of the size of the Mil MI-8, this helideck will be engineered for severe environmental conditions such as –40°C. OE

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