A competitive advantage in offshore servicesMarch 14, 2023
Jordan Pollonais, general manager of Inland Offshore Contractors Limited (IOCL), talks to The Energy Year about new advances the company has made with the uptick in regional activity, its greatest competitive advantage and its efforts to achieve sustainability. IOCL is a Trinidad-based services provider for the local and regional energy industries.
What new advances has IOCL achieved with the uptick in regional activity?
One of our major activities in 2022 was that we opened a branch in Guyana. We have also added two vessels to our fleet: two DP2 vessels, 202 feet [61.6 metres] long that were purchased in Mexico and taken to Colombia for refurbishing. Those vessels are more environmentally friendly as they utilise diesel electric propulsion, which uses less fuel than conventional direct-drive systems and produces far less pollution.
They are designed to maintain a speed of 13 knots at loadline (the fully loaded condition), and are up to 20% faster than most existing vessels of equal size. They have oval liquid mud tanks with a self-cleaning system that provide maximum circulation and are more cost effective to clean than traditional square tanks.
We also continued to do our usual work in Trinidad and have secured Subsea 7 as a new client that we work with directly, as well as ExxonMobil, who contracted one of our vessels.
The type of work usually involves providing water or fuel or transporting cargo. Some of our clients request that we move dangerous goods off the platforms.
Do you expect any new activity working with local oil companies in 2023?
We placed bids for contracts with Heritage. There are a lot of international bidders, so we have been upgrading the engines in our vessels to maintain a competitive advantage, in addition to our cost advantage. Where we are at a disadvantage is due to the fact that Trinidad doesn’t have local content legislation enforced.
What do you consider to be your greatest competitive advantage?
If our clients want something that we don’t already have, we take steps to procure it and install it. One of our clients in Guyana wanted a large piece of equipment on the ship that allows you to step down onto another smaller vessel, so we procured and installed it on one of our vessels for them, and trained our crew to use it.
We cater to what our clients ask for. The most important thing in business is that your client is satisfied that they are getting what they ask for.
In which markets have you been active and how can this assist in regional collaboration and development?
IOCL has provided services in countries including Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Aruba, Curacao, Venezuela, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius and Houston, USA. We are now interested in working in Nigeria. We can offer our vessel services regionally and around the world. We are integrating our tank cleaning services into the Guyanese market at this present time as it is more viable for our operations.
Trinidad and Tobago has a long history in the energy sector, so we firmly believe that we can regionally collaborate. During the next year, the region encompassing Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela will be able to seize opportunities that arise as a consequence of the gas curtailments occurring in Europe.
The energy sector in these developing oil and gas countries is growing at an enormous rate, but the sector and its services are still in infant stages so it has its limitations. Through our areas of expertise, we can offer skillset, labour, processes and development. This region is rich in gas, so that development is going to open up a bigger opportunity for us – our ships will definitely be able to transfer fuels.
What steps have you taken as part of the global effort to achieve sustainability in maritime operations?
All of our vessels have to be approved and compliant according to certain certificates that we have, including the new regulation capping sulphur emissions at 0.5%. It would put us in a difficult situation if we were not compliant because there are international clients that we work with who would need us to be up to date on these types of regulations. The newer vessels in our fleet were purchased with energy efficiency in mind.
As you go more in depth into the legalities and technicalities around total sustainability, you begin to see why it is a difficult process because there are different aspects to it. Aside from oil and fuel pollution, which can easily be prevented, there are other sources of waste production that have to be considered. Total sustainability is attainable, but it has to be done over time. It can only be achieved over some years.
Why is it important to have more women taking leadership positions and making executive decisions in the energy industry?
This industry has always been male dominated, and as we grow as a society, we are seeing more women taking roles that have been typically held by men. More and more women are working offshore and in roles that have validated that they are just as good, or perhaps and in some instances, even better suited for some specific roles that they fulfil. It is important to acknowledge this gender gap and its significance is that it brings a diversity and progression to the sector.