By Daniel Canty
Abu Dhabi is regional gateway for workboat projects.
The Middle East offshore support industry is witnessing dramatic growth backed by large new workboat orders and increasing merger and acquisition activity among maritime-related companies, says a financial expert.
Multi-billion dollar projects in the Middle East oil and gas industry are driving development in the design and operation of workboats. In addition, there is a growing demand for workboats to service the many port and reclamation schemes taking place around the Arabian Peninsula.
Geir Sjurseth, managing director and global head of the Offshore Support Group at DVB Bank's shipping division, an international finance house specialising in the global transport market, will be speaking on finance and equity at Middle East Workboats 2008 conference which takes place alongside a major exhibition at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre in April.
"The Middle East offshore support industry has everything going for it," he said. "A phenomenal growth backed by large new build orders and increasing merger and acquisition activity."
Abu Dhabi itself is at the heart of the workboat industry in the region and the gateway to the global workboat business with projects in hand totalling more than $400 billion.
"The region is in the process of renewing and upgrading the fleet so a lot of new features and equipment will be available in the market," said Elvind Grøstad, Senior Vice President and Middle East and India Regional Manager for Det Norske Veritas, one of the world's largest maritime classification societies and a sponsor of Middle East Workboats.
One of the world's most prominent naval architects will also be taking part. "Robert Allan is pretty much the foremost designer of workboats in the world and his company has worked extensively for clients in the Middle East - including Lamnalco in the UAE," said Vanessa Stephens, events director at Seatrade, organisers of Middle East Workboats
"As a recognised expert in the design and handling of tugs and associated craft, he will be outlining improvements in tug design and operational efficiencies for both harbour and offshore applications," she added.
James MacHardy, the former CEO of the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators, will chair the April Workboats conference. Among the other industry related topics will be contracting arrangements and expanding regional maritime building and repair facilities. The importance of maintaining the safety record of workboats along with class rules will also be examined along with technological changes in small craft and manpower recruitment in today's challenging environment.
The Middle East Workboats exhibition will showcase products and services from all sectors of the industry. More than 100 key suppliers from around the world will be featured including Abu Dhabi Ship Building, Adnoc, Lamnalco, Lloyd's Register, NICO International, Rolls Royce and Wärtsilä.