Big Business and Even Bigger Ships…An Interesting Year for Dockwise CEO André Goedée

While at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston this year, I reconnected with Dockwise’s CEO, André Goedée for follow-on chat from our interview in 2012. Here’s what he had to say…

André Goedée dockwise

How’s the Dockwise-Boskalis transition going?

The business transaction has just recently been fully completed and we’re now gearing up toward the first steps of the integration.

This process will take a while and we are looking to complete this as diligently as possible. We of course have to look at what the market requires and see what we have within our group that when combined, provides the fullest coverage that our clients are looking for.

What do you see as the biggest strengths of the new Dockwise-Boskalis integrated company?  

There are certain parts within the group that are niches by themselves, but if you look at the combined offshore activities of Boskalis and Dockwise, it becomes the transport and installation of platforms.

Boskalis brings a whole host of additional services from boats to subsea services, so we basically cover our own mooring spread, the barges, the subsea activities, and then of course the transportation and installation capabilities of Dockwise.  We now have a much broader scope of capabilities that we are able to offer to the market.

I think that clients are definitely looking at single source.

That part of the business puts us into a position where we can really be much more competitive in that market than we were before as Dockwise on our own.

Where do you see the key markets now as the combined entity?

It’s global.  We’re primarily focused on all the float-over business.  Our important market is the far east and we’ve done quite a bit of projects in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, but also West Africa.  We know there are serious projects being scrutinized technically in the North Sea for float-over and installation.  We’ve been working ourselves in an enormous marketing effort for Brazil, and I’m quite sure that’s going to happen at some point in time, and we’re looking at first float-over projects in Mexico for Pemex.

So if you look at the global spread, the float-over as a concept has been gaining momentum already for some years, and we are strongly positioned because of our essence for the float-over business.

Now, in combination with the activities of Boskalis, we simply have a better proposition to the market.  At the same time, having Dockwise a part of a larger group also makes us more attractive to clients, more stable, and I think there are a lot of pluses that come with this acquisition.

How much more growth potential do you see in Dockwise in the coming years from an asset standpoint?

I don’t think it makes much sense right now to name a number, because we haven’t even started the complete integration process yet.  It would be dreaming, so ask me again in a year from now.

Is the Dockwise Vanguard booked up for the next year?

We have a couple of more contracts where she is committed and we have a couple of projects that are close to being signed off.  We also have a number of projects that we are currently discussing with clients that take us into 2017 and 2018 already. So looking at the next couple of years, specifically for the use of the Dockwise Vanguard, looks very promising.

For the other large vessels which are at the top end of the market, there you have more distinct projects that we are aiming at. If you go below the Type-0 or Type-1 market, it’s much more of a spot-type market, similar to what we see today.

How many people are talking about FPSO drydocks at sea?

We actually have a lot of discussions going on right now about these FPSO drydocking operations, and I said this morning to one of the operators, we need the first one to actually sign up.

And that’s a matter of time. A very important factor in this are the classification societies.

Who are you working with on that?

Well, it’s DNV and ABS.  These are the two companies with the most experience in their portfolio, and they see the added benefit of the Dockwise Vanguard.

The clients put a lot of pressure on providing extensions on current certificates, but at some point in time, there’s going to be a moment where someone will make a decision to do a drydocking offshore.  We’ve seen that happen for the big semis, and I’m quite sure that one of these days we’re going to see an FPSO sign up for a drydocking operation.

This needs to be experienced, that’s how our business works.  And I’m quite sure that if the markets become comfortable with the idea, we’re going to see it as a regularly-returning situation.

What we see right now is that the Dockwise Vanguard has just completed her first project and people are asking, “Is she really the success that everyone has been talking about?”

Is she?

Yes, I am absolutely convinced that she did a wonderful job and she made great speed in her project.

What kind of speeds did she see during the voyage?

Well, she made 16 knots over a couple of days while carrying the biggest platform currently being built, but that was with the wind and currents. She made a steady 12 knots however during normal circumstances, and that is exceptional.

She does what she was designed to do. You’re not always that lucky, but in this case, it was a well-built ship, a unique concept, and for our fleet it was state-of-the-art.  She did well.

Do you have a patent on that design?

We have patented a couple of parts of the design, but I don’t kid myself. Patents in our world is protection for an amount of time, but it doesn’t give you a guarantee.

Click HERE for more information about the Dockwise Vanguard

Any lingering issues with the Fairstar deal?

No.  Well… there is some court action against the former management.

Yeah, that got pretty ugly.

Yeah, but that could still take a while. There are people looking at that, it’s in the background, but we are focused on the business. The company has been fully integrated and we have opened a new office at the Millenium tower in downtown Rotterdam. The whole group is there now together and we have added people out of the Dockwise organization that are focused on these modular projects.

So we have a good business unit now mainly focused on logistics management and the Fairstar group is in the middle of it, and is the core around which we built this.  Which has always been our aim, and the former Fairstar people that are here now, they are part of the group, and they like it.

From a leadership standpoint for you, what sort of challenge was this?

I don’t think it was a particular challenge other than there was a bunch of stuff written about it at the time.  We had some very competent people looking after this, it concerned a total of 4 eventually 5 new ships for the fleet, we added close to a 100 new staff members, most of them seafarers, it involved a lot of money, but it has not actually been able to distract us from doing the rest of our business.  We built the Vanguard at the same time, and we signed up some very large contracts with big clients as well.  We  very clearly made the decision to go on managing the business, and had other people look after the Fairstar acquisition.

Any new transactions on the horizon?

We have still one vessel being built at Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI) which is essentially a copy of the Blue Marlin, a Type-1 vessel.  It should be delivered by Q3 2014.

I’ve seen the first artist impressions and it looks fantastic.  Those Type-1 vessels like the  Blue Marlin have their own market, the big semis, bigger spar buoys, platforms.  The White Marlin is a different design from the Blue Marlin in that it’s diesel-electric, whereas the Blue Marlin is direct-drive.  This one will have three propellers in the stern two electric and one direct diesel driven in the center.

At the same time while this vessel is built, our management is also focused on the integration with Boskalis, which will require our attention, but our main focus remains on existing and new clients and projects, safety and reliability.