Smit Lamnalco said Tuesday the company has renewed its marine support services contract with Shell in the African republic of Gabon, in a deal that has triggered investment in three auxiliary newbuilds.

The five year contract renewal extends an uninterrupted relationship between the marine support specialist and Shell Gabon dating back to the 1990s. It covers support for Shell Gabon’s tanker operations at the remote Gamba Terminal, south of Port Gentil.

“The trust Shell Gabon has in our services has sustained through the 2011 merger of Lamnalco and SMIT Terminals.” says Aart van der Wal, Managing Director Smit Lamnalco Africa.

Three newbuilds ordered

The renewal covers the deployment, crewing and management of four Smit Lamnalco support vessels, with three newbuilds ordered in mid-November to replace existing tonnage. The orders cover one ‘Shoalbuster’ and one Beach Landing Craft from Damen Shipyards, plus one Fast Offshore Crew Boat from UK-based yard and well-known supplier in West Africa Alnmaritec. An existing ‘Shoalrunner’ auxiliary vessel will remain in place.

“Our willingness to invest in new tonnage was clearly a factor in the renewal” says Mr Van der Wal. “It is in line with our strategy to offer one of the youngest and most efficient marine and offshore support fleets in the industry.”

The Shoalbuster is a versatile, multi-purpose vessel for harbour, inland and coastal waters, characterised by high bollard pull and ample deck space. Meanwhile, the manouevrability of the 17m long, 25-knot plus, aluminium-hulled fast response vessel will be conferred by its double chine hull and Rolls-Royce Kamewa FF45 water jets.

Localisation programme

Smit Lamnalco has a locally-registered company in Gabon. The group pursues a localisation strategy in terms of employment, crewing and subcontracting. Nearly 75% of the Smit Lamnalco organisation in Gabon is staffed by Gabonese nationals.

Earlier this year, Smit Lamnalco signed a five year contract renewal with Total Gabon covering offshore oilfield support and tanker assistance at the onshore terminal of Cap Lopez, Port Gentil.

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