Bahrain-based Ship Repair Yard Invests $188m in facilities; Expands offshore operations
Bahrain’s Arab Shipbuilding & Repair Yard (ASRY) has come a long way since starting operations towards the end of 1977, as the Arabian Gulf’s first VLCC repair yard. Today ASRY is involved in the repair of all types of commercial vessels, naval craft and offshore jack-up rigs. It also has an expanding newbuilding division which has built specialist barges as well as completing four new tugs for its own use. In a further diversification, ASRY has established two new divisions, ASRY Energy which is building Power Barges (floating electricity generating stations), and ASRY Consultancy Services, which is offering turnkey engineering design services for major conversion projects as well as newbuildings. While business for pure shiprepair yards continues to be tough, especially in the Middle East where the arrival of two brand new yards has increased competition, ASRY diversification policy is paying off.
Shipyard Investment and Improvement
ASRY is currently coming to the completion of a major $188m facility expansion project, which positions the yard for the inevitable market upturn, and is indicative of the yard’s long term commitment: investing in a down market. The $188m expansion project has seen the construction of a new deep water 1.38m Repair Quay Wall, equipped with two large rail-mounted cranes; a 200,000 sq. m. offshore fabrication area with load-out quay: and four new Azimuth Stern Drive (ASD) tugs, built by ASRY itself. In early 2012 the yard continued to invest in new facilities, notably a $8.6m desalination plant and a $2.3m eco-friendly sewage treatment plant. ASRY is also investing in people, starting an apprentice scheme and also training 50 Bahraini’s to work in all departments of ASRY.
The Bahrain repairer has also undertaken measures to help the hard-pressed ship owning community. At the end of 2011 ASRY undertook a strategic review of the way the yard approaches Fleet Repair Agreement with shipowners, resulting in ASRY re-adjusting its terms for mutual benefit and positioning the ASRY offering more competitively.
The decision to establish a dedicated offshore division three years ago has paid off, with ASRY Offshore Services (AOS) contributing 40% of all sales and 50% of profit in 2011. To cope with increased offshore business, not just jack-up repairs, but also the potential of AOS moving into the offshore fabrication sector, AOS’s offices within the yard have virtually double in size this year, not just for offices for AOS staff, but also representatives of offshore operators.
The end of June 2012 saw the Bahrain face perhaps its major challenge to date, when the fire and explosion damaged 25,268dwt; 2004-built chemical tanker Stolt Valor arrived at the yard under tow. The Liberian-flag chemical tanker, operated by Stolt Tankers BV (a subsidiary of Stolt-Nielsen Ltd) suffered a cargo tank explosion on March 15, 2012, while 48 nautical miles south east of Farsi Island, Iran, while carrying 13,000 tons of MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether). Following the vessel being declared a CTL (Constructive Total Loss), Holland’s Smit Salvage was awarded the salvage contract. Then began the delicate task of discharging the cargo, fuel oil and ballast water.
The Kingdom of Bahrain was one of only two Arabian Gulf nations to provide a port of refuge for this vessel, the other being the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Bahrain was identified as the best destination for Stolt Valor due to the technical capabilities of both the General Organization of Sea Ports (GOP), as a regulator and supervisor of maritime safety and environmental matters in Bahrain, and of ASRY’s capabilities and expertise as a world renowned shiprepair yard. Stolt Valor arrived at ASRY on June 28, 2012, where a thorough safety inspection took place prior to any further investigation to ensure the vessel had no outstanding safety concerns. She was then transferred alongside the yards new 1.38km Repair Quay Wall where a detailed inspection and investigation was carried out in conjunction with the vessel’s owners to determine the best course of action. This has now been completed and ASRY is awaiting a decision from the owners as to whether the tanker will be repaired, or made seaworthy for towing to a ship breakers.
(As published in the August 2012 edition of Maritime Reporter - www.marinelink.com)