Saam Smit Towage eyes opportunities in Canada
Meanwhile in Canada, Saam Smit Towage is looking at new opportunities. The company has had a strong presence in Canada, particularly along the British Columbia Coast since 2000 when it acquired the marine assets, including the tug and barge operations, of Rivtow Marine Inc.
Saam Smit Towage Canada now has a mixture of 21 conventional and ASD Tugs operating along the BC Coast, where the company provides harbour towage and escort services in seven ports. The company carries out ship assistance, harbour towage and tanker escorts and employs around 110 people.
In Canada too, Saam Smit Towage has several Damen tugs including three ASD Tugs 3111 and two ASD Tugs 2810. In the more exposed ports the ASD Tugs are deployed as they are more suitable for seagoing work.
Fleet Renewal Programme
Frans Tjallingii, General Manager of Saam Smit Towage Canada is very familiar with Damen Tugs from his previous role in SMIT Gabon (which is now part of Boskalis’ joint venture Smit Lamnalco). “We know we can expect good service and quality from Damen. Damen’s tugs are known for their endurance and for being well built. They have done well for us.”
Frans comments that the company carries out a continuous modernisation and fleet renewal programme and is always looking for expansion possibilities. “We evaluate what we need to do to serve our customers best and in fact we have just added two new tugs.”
“There is a big focus on safety and the environment in this pristine environment. People are very aware of the impact of marine navigation and there is a lot of debate about tanker escorting, for example. We track the impact our activities have on the environment and we are always looking to improve this performance.”
Saam Smit Towage Canada has ISO 9001/14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification. “We are working with our crews and shore staff to do things safely and better, year on year.”
The Energy market
Frans comments: “2015 had lower revenues than 2014, there was, and is, a lot of pressure on energy related commodities, as well as the difficulties faced by our customers due to the overcapacity in the freight markets. Volumes remained relatively stable except for coal. I don’t think the bottom of the energy market has been reached yet.”
“But having said that, compared to other locations, Canada is a relatively stable market. If the different LNG terminal proponents can make their business plan work with expected commodity prices, there are possible opportunities coming up in that segment in the coming years. For the harbour towage business the next few years will remain challenging, but I am always an optimist and think there is a lot of potential here and we are confident of our competitive position.”