Wärtsilä capitalises on buoyant Mid East market

30 Apr 2011
Boiler servicing is booming, according to Wärtsilä in Dubai

Boiler servicing is booming, according to Wärtsilä in Dubai

Boiler servicing and modification business is booming in the Gulf, according to Wärtsilä Dubai boss, Ad J.W. Bertens.

Paul Bartlett writes: With this a key target sector, the company recently hired long-time boiler specialist John Aitken, previously at Doosan Babcock. Now the priorities include the marketing and installation of low sulphur modification kits, other fuel-related retrofits, the LNG sector generally and growing demand for land-based power plant installations throughout the region.

Recently the company supplied low sulphur modification kits for 12 BP tankers on a turnkey basis, Bertens tells The Motorship. The kits were shipped by container to each vessel and Wärtsilä sent specialist installation teams to the four Aframax vessels and eight VLCCs to install and commission the plant whilst the vessels were under way. The work took the 5-10-man teams about two weeks. The equipment cost between €100,000-200,000 per ship, according to Bertens, with installation costs on top.

Other repair-oriented deals recently completed by Wärtsilä Dubai include a contract to retrofit electronic lubrication systems for the cylinder liners of 14 NITC-owned VLCCs. Once again, the work was carried out whilst the D-class, H-class and N-class tankers were under way. The company has also recently installed slow-steaming packages aboard eight container ships owned by UASC.

Business is also buoyant on the newbuilding side, says Bertens. The company has supplied complete propulsion packages for the six seismic vessels built for Dubai-based Polarcus by Drydocks World. Five of the vessels have now been delivered, with the sixth due to be commissioned any time now. Propulsion packages have also been supplied for self-elevating and self-propelled offshore wind turbine installation vessels under construction at Lamprell's Hamriyah and Jebel Ali facilities for Seajacks and Fred Olsen Windcarriers. Other deals have been clinched in the offshore sector, with propulsion units being supplied for three rigs in Abu Dhabi for SBM.

The company's Middle East presence is expanding steadily. The 10,000m² Dubai facility, opened in 2009, can work on most two- and four-stroke engines and the combination of two of the seven overhead cranes gives a maximum lifting capacity of 60 tonnes. Elsewhere in Dubai, the company has a workshop at Jadaf, focusing on seals and bearings, which will move soon to Dubai Maritime City where the company will occupy a 500m² workshop.

As well as branch offices at ASRY in Bahrain and in Yemen and Syria, Wärtsilä has also supplied a power plant to Oman Drydock, the region's latest new repair facility, where it will have a workshop to undertake work for yard customers. There are no plans as yet for a similar facility at Ras Laffan in Qatar although negotiations are understood to be in progress.

Meanwhile, Iranian sanctions are putting something of a brake on activity with customers in that country. The Iranian market is significant, accounting for some 20% of the Mid East market overall, with important clients in both the marine and land-based power sectors. Luckily, NITC is not blacklisted under the sanctions programme so work for that company remains unaffected. But other Iranian companies, such as IRISL, which are blacklisted mean that Wärtsilä cannot finish the commissioning of certain delivered plant or the installation of new components. Nor, for the moment, can it service engines at land-based installations.

At the end of February, Wärtsilä announced that it had booked just over €4 billion of orders in 2010, a 22% improvement on 2009's €3.3 billion. However, its orderbook shrank over the year by 16% – from almost €4.5 billion to €3.8 billion. The company's operating result – earnings before interest and tax – was €487 million on net sales of €4.55 billion. These figures compare with €638 million on net sales of €5.26 billion over the previous year.

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