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Strong showing for first Middle East Workboats

Abu Dhabi: This week saw the successful first edition of the Middle East Workboats show organised by Seatrade in Abu Dhabi. The show, at the newly renovated Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan (pictured) and saw high participation from over 100 international exhibitors from the oil and gas sector.

As many ship-owners and managers seek to use the Gulf as a springboard for markets in India and the Far East, Middle East Workboats served as a platform for international players to negotiate joint ventures with regional incumbents.

Stating that 200 new company vessels are slated to become operational in the next five years, Amer Al-Sulaim, executive director for Industrial Services, Saudi Aramco, has stressed a need for better competition in Saudi industry and improved access to contractor repair facilities. Aramco intends to have a chartered-only workboat fleet by the year 2024, and to spur dialogue, Al-Sulaim has been integral to the founding of the new Arabian Gulf Workboats Association.

Fear of oversupply preoccupies the market. DVB Bank's Geir Sjurseth calculates that the current global AHTS order book is 38% of the total fleet, while the PSV order book is a more moderate 26% of the total. As start-ups are difficult in the current climate, consolidation is popular, often with private equity firms seeking majority stakes on the hunt.

Another voice predicts that almost 6,000 new marine personnel, a third supervisory, are required in the Gulf. The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) forecasts Gulf shipping inventories will swell in the next five years with 50 offshore construction vessels. Chief executive Hugh Williams said IMCA is growing at 20% a year and currently has 460 members.

Waterfront developments like Dubai's Palm Trilogy and Abu Dhabi's man-made islands are also likely to generate huge increases in the volume of littoral seaborne traffic. Up to 400 orders for fast vessels for up to 300 passengers are expected in the next decade.  [02/05/08]

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