FINANCE & ECONOMICS
Ship Side Dry Dock: Raising the Bar in Dry Docking.
In this interview with Nestoil News, Esezobor talks about challenges facing drydock business in Nigeria and how to energise the sector, amongst other issues. Excerpts:
Can you briefly describe Shipside Drydock Limited and its services?
Shipside Drydock Limited is one of the subsid-iaries of the Obijackson Group, one of Sub-Sa-haran Africa’s fastest growing conglomerates. It is located on the Okirika Creek in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. Shipside Drydock is a maintenance and repair facility that houses 8 state-of-the-art workshops for total mainte-nance and repair of all types of marine and offshore vessels.
Shipside Drydock is managed by a team of seasoned professionals with a mix of expatri-ates and highly qualified Nigerians. The facility which was constructed by Damen Shipyard in the Netherlands has grown to become a dependable resource in the West African maritime industry through service excellence. The Netherlands has grown to become a dependable resource in the West African maritime industry through service excellence.
Our repair and maintenance facilities are tailored towards ensuring safe working conditions, competitive prices, short lead times, high quality workmanship and overall reliability in the services to our clients.
“There is massive capital investments in Nigerian shipyards that
can make them compete
with any shipyard in the
Our range of services include: Blasting and painting, maintenance and propulsion systems, engine works, bow thrusters, rudder systems, hatches, piping systems, shaft works, winches, generators, electrical systems, navigational equipment, classification surveys, rig fabrication/revamping, piping work, water jets replacement (Hamilton & Kamewa) and overhauling of pumps
How well-resourced are you in terms of facilities, equipment and human resources?
Our facility houses eight state-of-the-art workshops with latest equipment required for shipyard/dry-docking business. Our floating dock is 110 metres by length; external and internal beams are 32 and 26 metres respective-ly while our maximum lifting capacity is 5,000 tonnes. We have three dock cranes with maximum load of 15 tonnes and maximum reach of 35 metres. We also have experienced and well-trained local and expatriate staff with various skill sets who are dedicated to handling all marine-related works.
Since inception, has your company ever gotten any of the multinational shipping liners as client?
We have always been rendering services to international clients such as: T1 Marine Services, Depthwize Nigeria Limited, Damen Services, Bourbon Interoil Nigeria Limited, Nautic Africa.
Do you remember any milestone project that tasked your team to the limit?
Prior to commencing any work, we put in place detailed plans and strategies that would make the work seamless. This approach has helped us deliver works without much difficulties. However, revamping and refurbishment works on burnt Rig Majestic, owned by Depthwize Limited was very tasking. The client wanted quick completion of the works to enable them to return to their drilling mode. Based on our philosophy of delighting our clients at all times, we put in a 24-hour operations with different shifts to complete the works as scheduled. Prior to this repair works, rig refurbishment of such magnitude are taken abroad with the mindset that Nigerians cannot handle such. However, we are changing the narrative about Nigeria shipyards by ensuring that not only are quality repairs carried out, but they are completed on schedule.
Nigeria has several dockyards like the ones owned by the Nigerian Ports Authority, Niger-dock, etc. What is your company doing differ-ently to attract multinational shipping companies to drydock with you?
Since our venturing into the shipyard business, we have become the preferred destination for ship owners because of our quality and timely delivery, high technical competency and transparency. Since commencing business four years ago, our clientele base has been on the increase. Ship owners have continued to testify to our unparalleled quality of service and we contin-ue to ensure that we sustain and improve on our services.
What is your take on the capital flight Nigeria is facing owing to the fact that most oceango-ing vessels that do business on Nigerian waters do not drydock in-country?
The issue of preference for anything foreign should be of great concern to the government. Most of our teeming youths are unemployed because of lack of patronage of made in Nigeria goods or services. It is this mentality that is affecting ship owners, resulting in the preference for foreign shipyards at the expense of Nigerian shipyards.
Shipside Drydock recently carried out repair of a burnt rig, which hitherto would have been shipped out to Europe for repairs. However, the client decided to give us a trial. We did not only complete the repair works on time, we also provided quality services that resulted in the rig going back to drill.
There is massive capital investment in Nigeri-an shipyards that can make them compete with any shipyard in the world. The quality of staff in these yards are second to none (local and expatriates), thereby making them to be in a position to handle any kind of ship repair.
However, to stem this trend, there is an urgent need for the government to make a law mandating Nigerian-flagged ships to carry out drydock in-country. If the law is enacted, it will reduce foreign patronage and create jobs for our teeming youths as most drydock employ artisans like welders, mechanics, blasters, painters to mention but a few. Young Nigerians who possess these skill sets would be employed by Nigerian shipyards as a result of patronage by ship owners. In addition, this will ensure economic effectiveness, helping to save millions of dollars annually if vessels of any size can be dry-docked in-country. It will also become a means of earning more foreign exchange for the country as vessels from other countries will use the facility.
Presently, Nigerian Ship Registry is one of the low performing ones in the West and Central African region. This means that very few vessels are flying Nigerian flags. How does the absence of a viable ship registry in Nigeria affect your business?
A viable ship registry shows the strength of a nation’s participation in the maritime industry. With the registry performing below expecta-tions, the effect is that the total tonnages registered will be low as owners will rather register their vessels with another flag. As the nation is losing tonnages to other better performing registries, the dry-docking businesses are lost to the country where those vessels are registered. Lower patronage of the Nigerian registry translates to lower patronage of the dry-dock facility in Nigeria, stalling the experience of the companies with a variety of vessel types and sizes. Also, expansion of the dry-dock facilities may not be in the picture for a long time because of low patronage as a result of tonnages registered under the Nigerian flag. Not being able to increase the capacity means the growth of the companies in drydocking business will be sluggish.
How does the absence of national fleet and oceangoing vessels affect the ship drydock-ing business in Nigeria?
I do not think the absence of national fleet has any impact on drydocking business in Nigeria as I am of the opinion that the government should just create enabling environment for business to thrive instead of running business-es themselves. The absence of Nigerian fleet does not have significant impact on drydocking business in Nigeria. However, I am aware that Nigerian government signed treaties with other countries with incentives.
What are the major challenges facing the sector?
One of the major challenges is the instability in the oil and gas business and this leads to low contracts. The sector depends solely on the oil and gas business for its survival. Robust invest-ment in oil and gas by International Oil Compa-nies (IOCs) and the indigenous oil companies would further create business opportunities for marine logistics with resultant positive impact on drydocking business.
Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) is critical in the services you offer. Tell us about your HSE record. Any major incident or work-related accidents?
We have not had any major accidents and we are running without Lost-Time Injury (LTI). Shipside Drydock has so far achieved 877,975 man-hours without LTI from inception.
Where do you see Shipside Drydock in the near future?
Our ambition transcends the borders of this country. In the near future, Shipside Drydock Limited will be the number one ship repair yard in the entire West African region.