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Workboats ride to the rescue for Middle East shipbuilding and repair

Abu Dhabi: While the world is in the grip of an economic slowdown, the Arabian Gulf remains a dynamic growth centre for ship building and repair. This is particularly so in the workboat sector, which includes tugs, ferries and supply vessels; police, fire, patrol, pilot, rescue and oil spill boats; along with, dredgers, barges and floating cranes. More than 2,000 such vessels estimated to be docked or repaired in the Middle East.

Abu Dhabi Ship Building, for example, continues to grow from strength to strength with a skilled workforce of 1200. The yard is busy on a variety of new ships as well as repairing and upgrading both commercial and naval vessels.

Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands is constructing in its China yards 100-person ferries for Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority operating between four stations on Dubai Creek. The ferries will have a maximum speed of 24 knots and economy and business class seats. The authority has also ordered ten catamaran water taxis from Damen also for use on the Dubai Creek. Damen also has a joint venture yard with Albwardy Marine Engineering in Dubai.

Zamil Shipbuilding, with a full order book well into 2012, has one of the region's most significant shipbuilding and ship repair bases at Dammam, Saudi Arabia. In recent years it has built and delivered harbour tugs, pilot boats, offshore utility vessels, anchor handling tugs, supply and safety vessels, and a diving support vessel. Zamil anchor handling vessels have been delivered to work with Saudi Aramco in their offshore oil fields in the Arabian Gulf.

Also in the offshore oil and gas sector, Sharjah yard MIS believes the market outlook in the Middle East to be strong and healthy despite current world crude prices.  MIS, a major fabrication base and shipyard employing around 5,000, said recently that most projects in the area for increasing oil and gas production by national oil companies are still on stream. Offshore jack-up and drilling rig refurbishments, or repairs, were also at an all time high.

Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat) has announced it is joining forces with Damen Shipyards for the construction of high-value workboats in a state-of-the-art shipyard at Ras Laffan. The new facility is expected to roll out roughly 15 vessels a year. The yard is expected to commence operation in early 2010 has been designed to produce tugs, offshore supply vessels, coastal tankers and ferries; naval and coastguard vessels and luxury yachts.

These companies and more will be taking part in the 2009 Middle East Workboats exhibition and conference takes place from 5-7 October at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Public Works and Chairman of the National Transport Authority. The event is organised by Seatrade and Principal sponsors are DNV, ESNAAD, Irshad. Other sponsors are DVB, ABS, Lamnalco, Svitzer, Topaz Energy & Marine and Wartsila. Supporting organisations are the International Marine Contractors Association and the Royal Institution of Naval Architects. For more details see www.middleeastworkboats.com  [15/05/09]

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