The Drydocks World Dubai (DWD) yard has long been one of the world’s leading gas carrier repair facilities, taking full advantage of its favourable geographic location in the Middle East Gulf. After a lull in 2020 due to the pandemic, there has been a big bounce back in this type of work in recent months, consolidating Dubai’s position as a leading global gas carrier repair and maintenance centre.
Over the first half of 2021 DWD repaired 14 gas carriers, up from just three in the first six months of 2020. Since then, between July and September this year a further 12 gas carriers have been docked at the yard and with four more vessels of this type booked in, 2021 will end up close to the yard’s 2010 peak, when it achieved its highest ever gas carrier figure of 33 vessels.
Prospects for the future in this sector seem highly promising. Indeed DWD has recently signed two agreements with major LNG carrier owners, establishing long term relations with them both. These arrangements are expected to generate a steady stream of drydocking and maintenance work over the coming years.
Notable programmes of work undertaken to date this year have included LNG cargo containment membrane repairs on three vessels. In this case, DWD, together with the owner, arranged for specialist companies to carry out these repairs including tank protection and scaffolding work, while adhering to high safety standards, completing the work in record time. DWD has also docked its first Very Large Ethane Carrier (VLEC) and has installed 14 ballast water treatment systems on LNG carriers to date in 2021, alongside standard drydocking and repair works.
Given the strength of the gas carrier repair market right now, DWD is making several investments to upgrade facilities in a way that will enhance services to LNG and LPG vessels. Two new cranes have been added to boost capacity and facilitate faster turnaround times. Also new robotic hydroblasting machines have been acquired to speed up surface preparations and make this work more environmentally friendly. Furthermore a digital transformation project has been launched to deliver operational efficiencies and improve customer service.
DWD has also developed procedures for accepting LNG fuelled vessels for emergency repairs and is gearing up to offer a service to offer LNG fuel retrofits on Aframax tankers. This new service will help support shipowners meet IMO emissions targets and offer flexibility at a time of fuel price volatility, the company states.