Building valued relationships in Libya for more than 35 years
Libya has always been a very busy and important market, with Damen active in the country since 1975.
And even today, just three years after the revolution, there are plenty of developments and expansion plans whether this concerns port authorities, the Libyan Navy or entrepreneurial private companies. Tarek Aboukhlal, Damen Regional Director Africa, who is Libyan, has been a regular visitor to Damen customers for the last 25 years. Damen has traditionally had a specialist team in Libya and it not only sells vessels to the country, it plays a vital role in training Libyan seafarers and engineers, as well as carrying out maintenance and rehabilitation activities and providing spare parts.
Prospects for the market are looking promising for the future with several oil terminals, shipyards and ports upgrading and modernising, Tarek says. “The momentum is growing. Business is booming particularly in the oil and gas sectors. Libya has always been one of our most busy countries in Africa. With some 2,000 km of coastline, there is very steady business there.”
90+ Damen vessels
He estimates that Damen probably has 90 vessels in Libya at the moment. And indeed Tarek is proud that Damen managed to get the first new vessel into Libya again after the revolution was over. Being built for SMS, the Stan Tug 2909 tug had been on its way from the shipyard for delivery but it had to be stopped when trouble flared up. But straight after everything had calmed down, the vessel was safely delivered.
Currently, Damen is working on several orders for Libya. In July 2013, Damen delivered a Damen Stan Tug 2608 to the Libyan Ports Company (LPCo) and the sister vessels will be delivered in April and May this year.
LPCo is a long-standing client of the Group and operates a fleet of 30+ different Damen vessels. And in 2013 LPCo signed a service agreement, which included maintenance, a spare parts package and training. Damen usually has a team in Libya purely dedicated to LPCo, as well as engineers for other clients – a way of working also adopted in other countries.
The Libyan Naval Forces have become another important client to Damen in the last few years. During 2012-13, Damen delivered eight Stan Patrol (SPa) 1605 and it is busy with other naval projects.
Training is also an important part of the contract with the Libyan Naval Forces, LPCo, Azzawia Oil Refining Company and other clients. Damen will soon be providing a full training programme for 16 trainees for four months for the Libyan Naval Forces, most of which will take place in the Netherlands. This will cover all technical and maintenance training.
In 2012/13 Damen also trained more than 80 people for the Libyan Naval Forces in the Netherlands and Libya, who are largely working on the eight SPa 1605 vessels. “Typically we deliver training, spare parts and carry out the delivery/commissioning and services.”
Tarek emphasises that there are very positive signs from the market. The Azzawiya Oil Refining Company was the first client that ordered two Stan Tugs 1605 straight after the revolution in 2012; a few months later the Libyan Naval Forces ordered the patrol vessels, closely followed by LPCo’s order.
Recently, Sirte Oil Company ordered an ASD 2810 Tug with 5,000 HP power. The new tug will be used to handle oil tankers, both in and outside the harbours amongst other future projects.
Additionally, the Libya Services Team is currently busy with maintenance and rehabilitation projects for Harouge, Waha and RASCO. As well as the presence of several project managers and its service team, Damen is set to start its ‘hub project’ very soon, whereby it is establishing a maintenance workshop in Tripoli with its local agent Nile Shipping Agency Company.
Tarek comments: “Libya is more open – a modern and democratic country – and wants quality products from the West. They know the Damen name and our good reputation: high product quality, good services, maintenance support and aftersales assistance. Above all, we build fantastic relationships with our clients – they are our friends too.”