BBC Chartering has seen steady upstream project cargo volumes
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BBC Chartering has seen steady upstream project cargo volumes in 2009
Moving giant oil and gas installations from hub to hub falls to the capable hands of specialist project shipping firms. One such firm growing its regional operations and presence in the Middle East is BBC Chartering. Despite the disastrous year container shipping has suffered, Denis Bandura, managing director of BBC Chartering MidEast, says that project shipping demand in the Gulf has remained strong.
“Project cargo is pretty much 100% of our business, and oil and gas and mining make up a huge proportion of what we do. We do carry other cargo’s, such as bulk shipping, but that’s traditionally a repositioning cargo for us,” explains Dubai-based Bandura.
Inbound project logistics into Dubai in recent years has been huge business for the company, but strong links with oil and gas projects has kept the volumes up throughout the downturn.
“Our vessels can lift up to 500 tonnes, which covers all but the heaviest outsized cargo for the oil and gas business.”
The notion of lifting, through cranes attached to the vessel, a 500 tonne piece of kit worth several million dollars seems tricky to say the least, but Bandura says technological developments in positioning and monitoring onboard BBC’s fleet of ships take such loads in their stride.
“When lifting something very heavy the ballast tanks are flooded so the ship sits lower in the water, this way it’s more balanced and incredibly stable. The pumping system onboard shifts water around the vessel if it starts to list (lean to one side). Modern systems are so efficient they can keep the ship balanced to within a few centimetres, even during the heaviest lifts.”
Since establishing an office in the Gulf five years ago, Bandura says the business has gone from strength to strength. “We have seen very steady growth in the Gulf over the last three years in particular, with volumes in the region up by around 35%.”
Although project work for the oil and gas industries has dominated the regional flow of cargo, some project shipping jobs continue to surprise. Today the region’s exports go way beyond just liquid hydrocarbons. “As the Gulf economies have diversified, cargo flows have begun to change, which is interesting. We shipped the stadium for the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa next year. It was produced in Kuwait,” Bandura adds.
The biggest single market is, unsurprisingly, Saudi Arabia. “Abu Dhabi has been busy recently, but Jubail is possibly the busiest port for project movements in the Gulf – almost all of it inbound, very little come out!” explains Bandura.
Asset repositioning plays a big part in the upstream cargo BBC moves. “We deliver offshore and onshore rigs from Houston into Jebel Ali, and then after maybe six months we might be asked to reposition it to Malaysia. Wherever the demand for drilling is highest we deliver for owners such as TransOcean.”
From January to May of this year, BBC Chartering Middle East actually carried more cargo than in 2008.
“Margins have been eroded to a certain extent, but it’s still at a very reasonable level for us today. Globally, this region is performing very well,” concludes Bandura.