Despite ongoing volatility in the oil and gas sector globally, the Middle East – specifically the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – has remained a bright spot with sustained exploration and production activity by the likes of energy majors including Saudi Aramco. Recognising the potential for offshore marine players, Singapore-listed PACC Offshore Holdings (“POSH”) partnered Hmood Al-Khalaf Group in 2016 to form a joint venture, POSH Saudi, to capture these opportunities.
The two partners are no strangers to the maritime industry. With more than 60 years of operating experience and expertise, POSH is a leading international operator of offshore support vessels with a modern, diverse fleet of more than 100 vessels servicing multiple segments of the offshore energy value chain. POSH works across Asia, Africa, Middle East, North and Latin America, supporting many of the world’s major oil and gas companies and international offshore contractors.
As a subsidiary of Kuok (Singapore) Limited, a conglomerate with operations spanning six continents in sectors ranging from logistics and maritime to properties and hospitality, POSH can also leverage on the extensive networks both within and beyond the Kuok Group.
The Hmood Al-Khalaf Group is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest agribusiness and marine transportation players, with extensive business interests and investments across the country, the Middle East and in Australasia. It is also a leading owner, operator and charterer of livestock carriers to serve its expansive geographical footprint.
Going from strength to strength in Saudi Arabia
Three years on, it is clear that POSH Saudi has grown to much success. With a strong pipeline of charter contracts, it now employs more than 30 onshore staff to support its commercial and operations functions through a local office.
Within months of its formation in 2016, POSH Saudi won 12 long-term contracts to perform work for a National Oil Company in the local market. The initial contracts were for four new utility vessels to support its offshore maintenance work in the Arabian Gulf. This was then followed up by charters for eight Anchor-Handling, Supply and Safety Standby vessels for work in the same region. In 2018, POSH Saudi secured another contract to provide offshore accommodation support through one of its light construction vessels.
All 13 vessels have since been deployed for work. The strong results that POSH Saudi delivered within such a short timeframe speaks to the trust it has earned from clients.
Through the years, POSH has built an impressive track record by successfully executing some of the most complex projects for its clients globally that pushed the boundaries of human ingenuity and challenged the limits of engineering. These included the Shell Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (“FLNG”) facility, Ichthys Explorer Central Processing Facility (“CPF”), Ichthys Venturer Floating Production Storage and Offloading (“FPSO”) and Egina FPSO, each the world’s largest in their class.
The company has applied this same rigour towards service and safety excellence in Saudi Arabia. In 2017, POSH Saudi also opened a local office close to Tanajib Port area, in order to be proximate to the oilfields in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
Nurturing local talent and creating value in Saudi Arabia
Yet, companies – however well-run – cannot succeed without their most important asset: human capital. One of the challenges POSH Saudi identified was a lack of local crew within the Kingdom. Working in the maritime sector is traditionally a career path less taken in Saudi Arabia, largely due to a lack of knowledge about the industry.
To tackle this, POSH embarked on various initiatives in 2018 to build up and train a robust pipeline of local maritime talent. This is aligned with the Kingdom’s Total Value Add ("IKTVA") programme to increase localisation levels across key industries in Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Joseph Assaf, Director of POSH Saudi, said, “As a leading offshore marine services provider, POSH recognises the importance of generating mutual value to all stakeholders. Naturally, we are committed to making a difference to the local communities wherever we operate – including in Saudi Arabia where we are strongly supporting the IKTVA programme.
“To date, we have groomed a sizeable pool of local crew and will continue to do so as we expand and grow our business.”
One of the outreach programmes saw POSH Saudi contribute to local institutions, including the National Marine Academy, to increase awareness of the industry. This saw POSH personnel being invited to share insights on the offshore marine business as well as career opportunities with POSH Saudi.
POSH Saudi also launched an exchange programme with King Abdul Aziz University. This will grant POSH crew opportunities to attend maritime-related courses at the university during their off-hire season. Students from the university, in turn, will get opportunities for shipboard attachment with POSH; suitable candidates will be assessed for employment with POSH at the end of the attachment.
Within the company, POSH Saudi places high priority on creating meaningful employment and advancement opportunities regardless of age, background and gender. As an advocate of diversity in the workplace, the company supports female empowerment and approximately 25% of its staff in the local office are women.
Saudi Arabia: a springboard to the Middle East
With its central location within the Middle East, as well as ongoing offshore energy commitments, Saudi Arabia remains a key market for many offshore players including POSH Saudi.
As the POSH Group continues to add on new capabilities as an integrated offshore marine solutions provider, POSH Saudi is excited by the prospects of creating additional value for its clients in the Middle East. Over the past year, POSH entered the subsea space, expanding its suite of services to support subsea Inspection, Maintenance and Repair (IMR), as well as construction and installation work. It also expanded into the offshore renewables sector as alternatives form an increasing part of the energy mix, given its highly transferable expertise to this adjacent sector.
Mr Lee Keng Lin, Deputy CEO at POSH, said, “The Kingdom is a key pocket of growth for POSH and our establishment of POSH Saudi has been validated by its strong performance. In 2019, our strategy is to grow closer to our clients, both geographically and in terms of the solutions we provide. Saudi Arabia will be a crucial springboard for us into the wider Middle East region and we look forward to apply our existing and new expertise for clients in the region.
“Importantly, we will pursue this expansion in a manner that will see us grow together with our local stakeholders to create long-term, sustainable value for all, wherever we operate.”