DISCOVER Magazine #7

Aqua Diving Services

Published in category: Offshore Oil & Gas


Differentiating in a difficult market

Clive Frost
Aqua Diving Services

Aqua Diving Services was founded in Sharjah in 1975 by Clive Frost, who owns and manages it to this day. After 40 years, it still provides diving services but has also expanded into other offshore support activities. With offices around the Arabian Gulf, its client base is a roll-call of the leading offshore oil and gas production and support companies operating in the region.

The jack-up advantage

Mr Frost purchased Aqua Diving’s first self-propelled, jack-up rig some twenty years ago. He perceived that jack-ups are not so much vessels as mobile, stable platforms capable of taking on a wide variety of roles for extended periods. And with much of the Arabian Gulf having a depth of 40 metres or less, it is ideal for jack-up operations. The Aqua Jack-1, as the first rig was named, was a pre-owned unit measuring 25 x 22 metres and sleeping up to 26 personnel, including 6 crew. Still in use today, it taught Mr Frost and his team a great deal about jack-ups in general and what clients wanted from them. Armed with this knowledge, in 2014 Aqua Diving designed and built locally its first newbuild. 29 x 19 metres and built to RINA Class, the Aqua Lift-II sleeps up to 80 personnel and was fitted out to an exceptionally high standard. She has worked continuously since build and has proved very satisfactory to the client.

Creating a home away from home

“Our experience has taught us that what clients want is a really good quality living and working environment. This means efficient air-conditioning and heating, en-suite facilities in every room and internet on every floor,” says Mr Frost, “also good food and space to relax. A high quality environment increases morale and improves the productivity of the workforce, making extended stays on board much more bearable. The Aqua Lift-II delivers all that along with a stable platform which is also much more comfortable than a rolling ship.

”Since its delivery, the rig has been on long-term charter to a major Saudi-Arabian production company, and has received numerous messages of appreciation for the all-round comfort that she provides.

Following that success, Aqua Diving has now designed its third jack-up rig which builds on the knowledge gained from the Aqua Lift-II. Despite the downturn in the global oil market, Mr Frost sees increasing demand in the region for small, very specialised rigs that provide a high class environment to work in. “The yard that built the Aqua Lift-II was not big enough to to build what we needed,” he continues, “so I walked into Damen Shipyards Sharjah one day and told them what I wanted.” Their immediate response was both enthusiastic and professional, with the team keen to construct a type of vessel that this particular Damen yard had not built before.”

The Aqua Rise III will be 36 x 26 metres and have first-class accommodation for 126 personnel, 350m² of deck space, a helipad, life boats and two cranes rated at 45 tonnes each. Additional facilities will include a gym and large recreation room. She will be able to work in waters of up to 130 metres.

“Damen was supportive from the start,” says Mr Frost. “As a family-owned business, Damen has an entrepreneurial spirit and a long-term view which means they understand companies like ours, especially in difficult times. They recognise the risks involved.”

After much design approval work, the first steel was cut in mid-September in a ceremony which involved all the staff and substituted coconut milk for champagne, along with Hindu blessings and plenty of incense. Aqua Diving has also started using Damen Shipyards Sharjah for repairs to its other vessels and is discussing additional projects including a fourth jack-up rig for its growing fleet.

“We already have offshore construction work lined up for the Aqua Rise III when we take delivery in February 2018. We are confident that Damen will deliver on time,” Mr Frost continues. “The demand for these quality niche rigs looks good, and for us with our experience we make them economical to operate and easy to maintain, when compared to conventional OSVs/DP2s. This is yet another advantage at a time when operators are doing everything to minimise their costs and increase their production.

“Damen is helping us to achieve exactly what we want, to the standards that we know our clients will appreciate,” he concludes. “This will strengthen our future endeavours by keeping our clients as happy as we are!”

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