While the global shipbuilding and repair market struggles in a tough economy, business is generally buoyant in the Middle East, with several new shipyards set to serve expanding offshore oil and gas transport operations. Maritime Reporter recently spent some time with Abu Bakar Bin Mohd Nor, CEO, Nakilat - Keppel Offshore and Marine Ltd., Ras Lafan, Qatar, to discuss the new shipyard’s approach to winning business in a tight environment.
When you look at the expanse of your operations, what do you count as the primary strength of your company?
Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited (N-KOM) is a joint-venture between Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat), the world’s leading transporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and Keppel Offshore & Marine, a global leader in ship repair, ship conversion and construction of offshore drilling rigs. Having industry leaders as our parent companies allows us to leverage on each other’s strengths and expertise to ensure that our customers receive quality and timely shipyard services.
N-KOM is also strategically located within the integrated Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard complex, nearby LNG and LPG loading terminals at the Port of Ras Laffan, making it an ideal choice for vessels loading at the Port. The numerous containers and tankers plying the Persian Gulf and busy offshore market in the region further cements N-KOM’s position as a preferred shipyard in the Middle East.
Where do you see room for improvement?
As a newly established shipyard, N-KOM is constantly looking for ways to improve to meet the expectation of the challenging maritime industry and of our customers. We continuously invest in our people processes and engineering capabilities so as to enhance our service offering.
How is N-KOM investing today, in its facilities?
N-KOM is currently undertaking the construction of a Handymax-sized floating dock. A second floating dock (Q-max sized) would be administered by Qatar Petroleum as part of the Phase 2A development plan for the Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard complex. The first has a lifting capacity of 6,500 tonnes while the second has a lifting capacity of 80,000 tonnes. These assets will help to enhance N-KOM’s flexibility and efficiency. N-KOM is set to operate a facility dedicated to the repair of small ships (<20,000dwt) later this year, owing to the regional demand for such a facility to be made available.
How is N-KOM investing today, in training and in people?
N-KOM is committed to promote a continual learning and development culture among all our stakeholders. We regularly conduct safety and technical competency trainings to ensure that our workforce is equipped with up-to-date skills and knowledge.
We also conduct joint training sessions along with our contractors and partners as we realize the importance of having everyone onboard the team within the shipyard. We believe that our people are the company’s greatest asset and make deliberate effort to provide various opportunities for personal and professional growth.
What, specifically, does your facility, your staff offer to ship owners that is unique to the region? Unique to the world’s ship repair industry?
Our unparalled backing from two reputable names in the maritime industry- Nakilat and Keppel, along with our ideal location within the Port of Ras Laffan allows us to offer a unique and comprehensive suite of services to meet the requirements of our clients. We have acquired world-class partners and invested in technologically advanced equipment to provide a holistic and integrated shiprepair facility, the Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard, at the doorstep of one of the world’s busiest shipping routes- the Persian Gulf.
Looking at the market overall, where do you see the best opportunity for growth in the coming few years?
While the global shipping industry has seen better times, the global LNG and offshore markets are making headlines with their rise and profitability. N-KOM is able to capitalize on this global LNG boom by positioning itself as a center of excellence for LNG repairs. With our location at the doorstep of LNG loading terminals in the Port of Ras Laffan, N-KOM is strategically positioned to offer our array of services and specialist knowledge to LNG shipowners, where to date having carried out 33 LNG repairs carried out within a span of 18 months since operations began.
The thriving regional offshore market also presents a great opportunity for N-KOM to extend its repair, fabrication and maintenance services for rig owners. Having previously completed repairs and refurbishments for seven jackup rigs, and having three more firm-stemmed from Ensco this year, N-KOM is growing its repute as a safe and reliable solution provider to the offshore industry.
Established in 2007, Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited (N-KOM) was founded from a joint- venture between Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat), the world’s leading transporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and KS Investment Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine, the global leader in ship repair, ship conversion and construction of offshore drilling rigs. The world-class Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma shipyard, which is strategically located near to the LNG terminals in Ras Laffan Industrial City, was inaugurated by H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, on 23rd November 2010.
(As published in the September 2012 edition of Maritime Reporter - www.marinelink.com)