Group synergies offer long term benefits to Dubai yard
Shiprepair & Maintenance: 3rd Quarter 2018
Drydocks World Dubai (DDW) is going through a period of transition following its acquisition in January this year by DP World. The shipyard is now part of a newly formed Maritime Services Division (MSD) that also includes P&O Maritime, P&O Ports, P&O Marinas and Dubai Maritime City.
A new senior management team, led by chief executive officer, Rado Antolovic, has been installed with a mandate to create a strong platform for long term growth and development. Antolovic says: “Integrating these companies within MSD will improve their efficiency and effectiveness through beneficial synergies across the division. We will refine business strategies that maximise the skills of each entity and streamline processes to achieve significant improvements.”
Being a part of the wider DP World group also opens up ‘massive’ potential opportunities for the shipyard, Antolovic believes. “We have the largest single company-operated port in the world in Dubai, with 25,000 different vessels calling here every year. On top of that, MSD itself operates 320 vessels of different types that require maintenance and refits. So the yard will be able to benefit from the demand generated, and services provided, within the wider group in the future,” he says.
Over the past few months, the new management team has carried out a phased, in-depth review of the business, and this has led to a restructuring of senior and middle management functions, plus a review of the skills needed across the company. It has also embarked on the creation of a 30-year masterplan for DDW, which is expected to be published by the end of this year. “One area that we are particularly focusing on is our people,” says Antolovic. “We need to make sure they have the right skills, and where possible that they are multi-skilled, so that we have more flexibility in future to meet evolving customer requirements.”
High workload situation
DDW has got off to a good start in 2018 under its new management team. In the first half of the year the company has seen an increase of more than 10% in the number of orders received, with more than 100 ship and rig repair projects being completed, as well as two conversion projects and four newbuilding contracts.
Antolovic says: “We have experienced a high workload situation in the first half of the year, and this is particularly due to the fact that the yard has secured a number of high value projects. We have seen a positive trend in enquiries from the oil and gas, as well as renewable energy sectors, and this makes the outlook for the second half of the year positive as well.”
DDW has seen good levels of business almost across the board in the ship repair sector, with increased numbers of containerships, naval vessels and bulk carriers being docked, while the key tanker market has delivered a stable volume of business. Tanker contracts account for about 60% of the DDW workload, with key clients including BP Shipping, Chevron, Maersk and Stolt Tankers. The yard is also seeing growing demand for its services in the passenger shipping sector; a highlight of the first half of the year was the arrival at the yard of Aida Stella, marking the first time the German cruise operator has docked one of its ships in Dubai.
Looking forward, prospects in the ship repair business are assessed positively by DDW. The company notes that it is in the process of negotiating long term agreements with three major shipowners to dock their vessels at the yard and, if successful, these deals would underpin a further upturn in the volume of work handled by DDW.
Outside the traditional ship repair sector, DDW has enjoyed a strong market position in the FPSO market and this track record has continued this year with the refurbishment and upgrade of an FPSO for Bluewater Energy. The project, due for completion later this year, includes the fabrication and installation of a turret buoy for the vessel. The yard is also active in the FRSU sector and has recently completed a major refurbishment upgrade of the FSRU Excellence.
While building on its traditional markets, DDW is also looking to diversify into other areas where it sees significant growth potential. The yard is, for example, looking to capitalise on growing demand for environmental refits, including both ballast water treatment and scrubber contracts. The yard has already gained valuable experience, installing three UV type and one electrochorination type ballast water treatment systems on vessels of various types. In addition it has undertaken 3D scanning and engineering work in preparation for ballast water treatment installations.
Antolovic says: “DDW is offering a one stop solution to clients for the installation of scrubbers and ballast water systems. We have arrangements in place with a number of manufacturers already and are in discussion with several ship owners to offer them solutions that will allow them to comply with new environmental regulations.”
Other potential areas of diversification being considered by the yard include LNG cooler repair and upgrade work, the installation and servicing of battery powered vessels and the building of small vessels in markets where it has a competitive advantage, such as tugs and offshore support vessels. It is also looking to capitalise on synergies with P&O Maritime in the offshore market, for example offering a service for rig recovery and relocation work.
Antolovic further plans to target the superyacht sector. “This is a niche market that requires gifted workers with excellent skills and is an area where we see considerable growth potential. The yard is well positioned to offer excellent services to yachts, as well as other types of advanced, specialised ships,” he says.
Since the takeover by DP World there has been an increased level of investment to upgrade facilities at the yard, with a particular focus on new technology. Automated welding processes have been introduced, for example, along with some automatic cranes. In addition the yard has recently acquired six robotic hull blasting and painting machines to increase productivity, improve quality and reduce environmental impact with this type of work. DDW is also working to develop new IT systems that will allow clients to be able to better track the progress of projects at the yard.
“Innovation and technology are a central theme in our strategy going forward and will act as a catalyst for advances in the business. By thinking ahead, innovating and adapting to change, we will generate significant growth in the years ahead,” Antolovic concludes.