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Live From SMEM 2014
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Halul Offshore eyes expansion in Africa and Southeast Asia

Qatari OSV operator Halul Offshore Services Company’s delivery pipeline of around 12 new vessels is due to be completed within the next year-and-a-half, and will stand the company in good stead as it seeks to move beyond the Middle East region to win new business in Southeast Asia and Africa.

“We’ve got about a dozen vessels coming in the next 16 months. They are already ordered. They are all DP 2, and also in compliance with Qatari and [Saudi] Aramco standards. We should reach a 50-vessel fleet by that time,” said Vivek Seth, Halul Offshore’s ceo, speaking to Seatrade Global on the sidelines of a Seatrade Middle East Maritime session on offshore oil and gas logistics.

He would not be drawn on which countries in Southeast Asia were of interest. “On Southeast Asia, it’s hard to say right now. In Africa, it’s both sides, east and west,” he said. Southeast Asia's main offshore markets are Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, but can also come with relatively strict cobatage regulations as is the case of Malaysia and Indoneisa.

Halul Offshore’s fleet comprises 38 vessels today, Seth said, including AHTS, DSVs, PSVs, safety-standby, and maintenance vessels. The company also provides subsea and diving support, as well as offshore construction and equipment vessels.

“We are revisiting our whole strategy [of] how to grow beyond the Middle East. We have a good reputation here,” Seth said. He implied that West Africa would be of interest, including Nigeria, Angola and Ghana.

“We are looking in Southeast Asia and also Africa, where everyone else goes to look. East Africa would mean midstream activities and offshore [oil] exploration and production.”

Yards in the UAE, China and India are building the new vessels for the Halul fleet, Seth said. “We are taking delivery of one tomorrow and another in 10 days,” he said.

The session also dealt with the relentless growth of regulation in the shipping industry and the increasing stringent requirements for training to meet new advances in technology. Seth said the advances in sophistication of machinery and equipment were posing problems for vessel operators

“Speaking as an owner, we have failed to train our people to look after these vessels. The gap between technology and human skills is widening exponentially,” he said.

The company operates in Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE today. Halul’s fleet is based at yards in both Ras Laffan and Messaieed, Qatar. It also carries out subsea work using its DSVs, and also owns maintenance-support vessels. Qatar Petroleum and Aramco are Halul’s biggest clients.

Milaha, the major energy, maritime and logistics conglomerate based in Doha, also known as Qatar Navigation, owns 100% of Halul. Industry veteran Seth earlier served as md Middle East and India for Smit Lamnalco and has also been in management roles with Tidewater and Svitzer.

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