Flexibility the key for future success
Compared to a number of its competitors that can trace their origins back a century or more, Seacontractors is very much a new arrival to the world of the offshore services. Yet, in the 10 years since it was founded by entrepreneur and Executive Director Xander Schanssema, Seacontractors has become a respected services provider in a number of sectors around the world.
The company’s activities are currently focused on three key areas; offshore energy, maritime infrastructure and towage/salvage, and ship handling services, but that mix is constantly under review and evolving. “One thing that we are seeing happening due to the challenging conditions in the industry is that our energy division is becoming smaller while our maritime infrastructure section is growing. We expect the civil section to become one of our main business in the future, especially with the growing offshore wind farm business in Zeeland”, says Mr Schanssema referring to the region of the Netherlands where Seacontractors is based.
In addition to the business areas based on its large fleet of modern offshore vessels, Seacontractors is also active in ship management, offshore brokerage, salvage/wreck removal, terminals and ship management, serving a wide and expanding international client portfolio. Recent projects in this area include working with Van Oord on a project for KNPC in Kuwait and a long-term deal in Australia. “It is really exceptional at times like these to agree long-term agreements. Normally we work on short-term projects, which makes it essential to be able to adapt quickly and switch between jobs,” Mr Schanssema continued.
Evolving to survive and prosper
In order to achieve that ability to adapt quickly, Seacontractors has built a fleet of vessels that are inherently multifunctional, allowing them to pro-actively react to the changing demands of the oil & gas and renewables industries. This has helped the company to keep pace with developments in what has been a dramatic 10 years for everyone involved in the maritime sector. Even though the industry is facing harsh economic conditions at the moment, Mr Schanssema believes the future is promising.
That commitment to versatility extends to where Seacontractors operates, as well as how it operates. A recent refocus has resulted in five geographical regions being identified as offering the most potential. As well as Northwest Europe, where it has around ships active on various contracts, Seacontractors’ vessels can also be found in the Middle East, the Caspian Sea and South America. The most recent addition is Africa, where the company has opened a branch office in Nigeria.
“We have the ability to change regions depending on the workforce and projects,” Mr Schanssema explains. “For example, even though the oil & gas industry is at its worst, we have still opened an office in the Middle East. We plan to expand our civil construction activities there based on the quality of our service and certificates.” One of the vessels operating in the Arabian Gulf is the Damen Shoalbuster 3209 Sea India. The shallow draught, multifunction Shoalbuster 3209 with its large aft deck is ideal for mixed assignments.
Damen has done a great job for us in developing these customised designs and the end result is worth it
The vessel, named Sea India, has a draught of just 3.3 metres yet 48 tonnes of bollard pull. She is also the first in her class to be fitted with FiFi-1 fire-fighting capability. At the same time that this order was placed, Seacontractors also signed up for two Stan Tugs 3011, the first of their class to be built. With 70 tonnes of bollard pull together with fire-fighting and anchor handling capabilities, for Mr Schanssema these represented a milestone in Seacontractors’ fleet expansion strategy, offering the potential to increase the company’s offshore oil & gas as well as terminal services capabilities. “What drew us to the new Stan Tug 3011 was the broader design, making it compact yet with plenty of deck space,” he commented, “and we also knew that we could rely on Damen for our demanding list of customisations.”
Named Atlantis and Dian Kingdom, the two tugs were delivered in June 2015 with custom features including a changed deck layout and an extension of 1 metre to the aft deck to create an open stern with roller. “We’ve put a lot of thought into these vessels,” Mr Schanssema said, “ensuring that they meet the tough requirements set by our clients, particularly in the Middle East. Damen has done a great job for us in developing these customised designs and the end result is worth it.”
Seacontractors now operates a total of seventeen vessels, but Mr Schanssema still sees room for growth. “These workboats are a great addition to the existing fleet, enabling us to pursue our ambitions and satisfy the specific needs of the maritime industry by offering specialised services,” he said.
Eight vessels in total were added in 2015, the other six being so called B-type vessels. Together these acquisitions strengthen the company’s operational synergies as well as its position in the international market. It is this ability to adapt quickly as new sectors gain strength while others mature that puts Seacontractors in a strong position to benefit, whatever the future may hold.