Export Business Brightens Future
Overall, Spain continues to have a thriving business community in spite of its recent political uncertainties. As the country continues its monetary integration within the European Union (EU) — which will ensure it a full role in the world's major trading block — investment continues and the peseta remains relatively strong.
The future for Spain's shipyards looks increasingly brighter, and several shipyards have positioned themselves for success in the changing market conditions. The orderbook for the Spanish shipbuilding sector as a whole is relatively healthy, due in large part to strong export drives by Astilleros Espanoles in the large ship segment and E.N. Bazan in the fast ferry niche. Meanwhile, the small and medium-sized shipyards which comprise two associations, Construnaves and Asega are also seeing an upturn in business.
ASTILLEROS ESPANOLES, S.A. The principal shipbuilding group in Spain is Astilleros Espanoles, S.A. (AESA). Its eight shipyards of varying sizes are capable of building a range of ships, from fishing vessels to VLCCs. AESA's group size affords it the luxury of offering a wide range of vessels, with each of its shipyards increasing its technology, knowledge and skills, and specializing in the production of one or two vessel types. It is also a majority shareholder in engine manufacturer Manises Diesel Engine Co. Until recently, the engine plant was a sole division of AESA, but now MAN B&W has a 20 percent stake.
Most of AESA's contracts have been for export. Of the 66 major ships built or converted in AESA's shipyards in the past six years, less than 15 have been for domestic accounts. Its reputation for building floating storage units (FSU) and shuttle tankers has been illustrated by a consistent outpouring of such projects in the past few years. The vessels have been mainly for Norwegian owners, with Texaco U.K.'s order for a 550,000-barrel FSU and an 80,000- dwt shuttle tanker for use in Texaco's North Sea fields ranking among exceptions.
There are three main geographical areas for both shipbuilders and ship repair companies. In the North, Sestao - near Bilbao — is dedicated to ship construction and had seven ships on order at the end of 1995. The smaller shipyard Astander, in Santander, is devoted solely to ship repair.
In the northwest, both the Juliana C. Gijonesa yard (Gijon) and the H.J. Barreras yard (Vigo) are devoted to newbuild production. Each had four ships on order at the end of 1995. Astano, in Ferrol, is devoted to repairs and conversions as well as offshore constructions. In the South, AESA's largest newbuilding facility, the Puerto Real shipyard, had five ships on order at the end of 1995. The Sevilla shipyard, with three ships on order, also concentrates on newbuildings. Repair work is carried out at the Cadiz shipyard. Over the next two or three years, the company intends to implement a strategic plan that covers several main areas, including its commercial activities and its product line. Both the company and the country as a whole will focus on financing, particularly on mehtods of attracting new investments. In early October of last year, AESA, shipyard unions and the government reached an agreement over implementation of AESA's three-year strategic competition plan. Initially, the plan proposed privatizing three shipyards in the North — Juliana, Barreras and Astander — and closing two in the South — Sevilla and Cadiz. But all of them will now remain within the group and be kept open. Shipyard activities will remain unchanged and newbuildings will continue at Sestao, Puerto Real, Juliana, Barreras and Sevilla. Repairs and conversions at Cadiz and Astander, and offshore constructions and conversions will likewise continue at Astano.
The competitiveness strategy was devised by AESA in response to low ship prices, due in large part to an increase in world shipbuilding capacity.
An active participant in the trend of forging cooperations with other countries' yards, AESA has recently reached an agreement with Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI). The agreement is structured to allow the shipyards to complement each other's strengths and to provide the advantages associated with information sharing. There is also a similar cooperative agreement between AESA and Avondale Shipyards in Louisiana. AESA remains a leading international shipbuilder, and its recent deliveries and current orders i/idenced by the newly contracted rder for a multi-purpose ferry for weFerry. Even though passenger hips have been an unsuccessful arget for the AESA group for some ears, the Puerto Real shipyard low has the opportunity to boost ts passenger ship credentials with ts first ferry newbuilding order. The 7,290-dwt multi-purpose vessel measures 656 ft. (200 m), and is designed to carry 600 passengers, and trains, cars, buses and trailers. During 1995, AESA secured orders (conversions included) totaling $834 million, a record for the company. There were a total of 12 ships contracted in 1995, 10 for export. Among them, the Puerto Real shipyard delivered two 130,865-dwt shuttle tankers ordered by the Norwegian operator Knutsen OAS Shipping, although their charterer, Norwegian stateowned oil company Statoil, exercised an option to buy them on delivery. These ships were designed to serve the Heidrun field in the North Sea. A 280,000-dwt tanker was also delivered last year to Panama-based Tajomar Ship.
Shuttle tankers have proved a successful niche for AESA, and it has delivered eight such vessels so far, including conversions, most of them resulting from its association with Knutsen OAS. AESAhas also built all the product and chemical carriers that have entered the Norwegian company's fleet since 1989. The last 130,000-dwt shuttle tanker order is another for Knutsen OAS, contracted in July, for delivery from Sestao in 1997. In March of last year Sestao won an order from Texaco for an 80,000-dwt bow-loading shuttle tanker, scheduled for delivery in November of this year and slated for operation in the Texaco's Captain field in the North Sea. The vessel will load from a 550,000-bbl FPSO unit which is on order at Astano, AESA's specialist offshore shipyard, which is also well into a 300,000-bbl FPSO for Golar Nor.
In February 1996, Statoil placed an order for a 125,000-dwt shuttle tanker, with options for another three vessels, for delivery from Sestao in January 1998.
In May 1995 the H.J. Barreras shipyard in Vigo delivered the first of a pair of 3,600-dwt ferries ordered by Naviera Armas Curbelo for operation in the Canary Islands. Delivery of its sisterships followed in October. The ferries carry 250 passengers each (with cabin accommodations for 76) and freight vehicles, with the dimensions of 200.1 x 52.4 ft. (61 x 16 m) on three decks. The Vigo yard has also recently won orders for four purse-seiner tuna vessels, which AESA claims will be the largest of their type. Two of these vessels have been ordered by Spanish owners, and the other two by French operator Saupiquet. The series is distinguished by a 6,200- kW diesel-electric powerplant, which will provide the energy needed for freezing processes as well as for the main propulsion power to sustain a service speed of 19 knots. The first of the four ships was delivered last December to the Spanish company Naviera Albacora.
Last year, the Sestao shipyard delivered a 46,500-dwt product tanker to Liberia-based Naviera Castellana, and currently has on order a total of seven ships. Four 47,000-dwt product tankers were contracted by Venezuela-based P.D.V. Marina S.A. A 46,100-dwt product tanker is for Liberia, a 126,500-dwt tanker is for Norwegian company Knutsen O.A.S.
Shipping AS, and a 87,500-dwt tanker for a Panamanian company The Sevilla shipyard delivered a 26,700-dwt product tanker in 1995 for the Norwegian operator Knutsen O.A.S. Shipping A/S, and at the end of the year had on order three RoRo ships for Isle of Man. Also at the end of the year, Juliana Constructora Gijonesa shipyard had four ships on order and had delivered three ships. The ships on order are three product tankers for Ireland and a containership for Malaysia. The three ships delivered were containerships for the Malaysian International Shipping Corp.