Innovation in marine and offshore services Drydocks World UAE Rado-ANTOLOVIC.jpg

In the UAE we will see more rigs being equipped to cater for the diverse gas finds and sour gas projects such as the Hail and Ghasha mega-project.


Innovation in marine and offshore services

May 23, 2023

Rado Antolovic, CEO of Drydocks World, talks to The Energy Year about new momentum in rig and platform conversions, the company’s sustainability offer and the strategy behind its steady and diversified growth. Drydocks World provides marine and offshore services to the shipping, oil, gas and energy sectors.

What is the strategy behind the steady and diversified growth of Drydocks World?
Drydocks World has become a leading provider of marine and offshore services to the shipping, oil and gas and energy sectors. To continue our path of success we have envisioned a master plan with key strategic pillars.
Firstly, we are enhancing our facilities to accommodate a range of projects to cover any requirements a vessel could have – from converting diesel engines to LNG or hydro-based ones, to in-house engineering capabilities for any vessel modification, all the way to complete refurbishment projects. Our diversified scope means we have been working on any marine assets for the past 40 years, be they container vessels, general cargo ships, passenger vessels or even mega-yachts, especially through our joint-venture Bijela shipyard in Montenegro, Adriatic 42.
Our second area of focus was to further embrace technology and modernise our IT platform. We implemented Oracle IT software, which holistically and efficiently interconnects the different segments and levels of the company. From customer dashboards providing real-time operation insights to the use of data for vessel optimisation or yard enhancement, we consider IT as a driver of growth and cost reduction. Moreover, our IT systems are constantly being updated to enhance the performance of our operations at the yard.
Thirdly, as a DP World company, the global end-to-end logistics provider, we have access to the full spectrum of talent and expertise globally. Whether that be relying on the high-skill talent pool concentrated in DP World offices in Mumbai, India, or working on projects with the Marine Services pillar of our parent company, we are fully integrated in our service offer.
A fourth pillar of our strategy is expanding our services globally. There are several opportunities we are eying overseas, especially in the area of ship recycling. To attract a diverse and global clientele, we have first made sure that internally we are strong and resilient by undergoing a restructuring and honing of our strategy. Our new strategy ensures that we are focusing on continuing to build and nurture our in-house talent, that we commit to protecting the environment and adhere to the industry’s sustainability targets, and that we continue to invest in the latest disruptive technology to innovate where possible and increase our value proposition.
Lastly, we recently expanded our capabilities by taking a hard look at where our services fit within the tendering process. As we expand as a company, we want to get closer to some of the end users and clients in the energy industry. We are currently building a small team of experts that will determine where our focus is best placed in terms of our offer.

What type of work are you carrying out and how are you growing your capabilities?
Expectations for 2023 are very positive. This year we have a 70% booking rate in terms of repair and maintenance work. Among the 32 vessels we are working on now, around 50% are oil and gas tankers. In the rig business, we are fully engaged with rig repairs, conversions and upgrades. In 2022, we worked on 23 offshore platforms, and in 2023 we have 17 more. We are witnessing a great momentum in offshore oil and gas production and there are many more projects still to come our way.
Our ongoing projects include four newbuild buoys, as well as five conversions of floating supply and production assets. These last ones can take between one and a half and three years to convert. Given the amount of work we have, we need to enhance our capacity, so we have decided to convert and upgrade one of our open storage spaces. The planned upgrade of our facility will enhance our total capacity by 20-26%. In fact, since May 2021, our utilisation rate has remained at 100%, and through our expansion plan we will increase this.
Additionally, we are working to acquire new-generation floating cranes. We currently have cranes with 50- to 300-tonne capacities and a 2,000-tonne sheerleg floating crane built in-house for heavy-lift operations – the largest in the region. We are now acquiring a larger 5,000-tonne crane from Japan. Generally, we are seeing that industry players are increasing demand for purpose-built technology that is especially built to facilitate oil and gas operations in the region.
We want to be prepared to serve the increasing demand of this market. The rise in production will bring a need for floating production units and modules. In this regard, we offer complete solutions for the fabrication of offshore projects, turret systems, modules and specialised vessels including FPSOs, FSRUs and FSOs.


Are sustainability and renewables projects gaining prominence within Drydocks World’s portfolio?
As a company, we have made sure we offer a diversified service portfolio for the marine, oil and gas, and renewables industries. This diversification is aligned with the changes witnessed in the global energy market in recent years, which call for more production, at lower costs, and with lower emissions. This has also triggered the need for technological advancement where rigs, for example, are converted to achieve better efficiency, and are also equipped with the latest technology to burn less gas, as well as capture it, store it and eventually convert it into energy.
Companies are now building and implementing strategies to hit zero-emissions targets, and our services are adapting to this demand. We are also aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040 and achieve net zero by 2050, in line with DP World’s overarching sustainability strategy. For example, our equipment, including cranes, run on dual-energy engines – electricity and petrol – while most of our generators have been changed to electrical ones.
Along these lines, last year we completed the Alpha and Beta topsides, two HVAC offshore transformer station topsides for the HKZ grid connection that will connect the offshore wind farm with the Dutch mainland, producing enough renewable electricity to cover the needs of more than 2 million households by 2023.
The offshore complex is made up of four 350-MW offshore wind farms. Two farms are connected to an individual 700-MW offshore substation, the already installed HKZ Alpha topside, and the other two are connected to another 700-MW offshore station, the recently delivered HKZ Beta topside. This project was carried out in collaboration with Petrofac and represents a milestone in our renewable energy project track record.

What momentum do rig and platform conversions have given the uptick in oil and gas activities?
When it comes to rigs and platforms, we normally focus on upgrades, conversions and maintenance work. If the platform is structurally sound, we only have to renew the equipment, instruments, pumps and cables, etc. These platforms are usually very robust, and if they are properly painted and have proper galvanised equipment, they can last 100 years. It is only the equipment that needs upgrading to make it more efficient.
At the end of 2022 we were working on four rigs at the same time. We do the inspection of these assets and proceed by carrying out the required reparations. We are fully booked in the next few years given the global demand for rigs, the high oil price scenario and the expected boom in offshore oil and gas activities in this region. In the UAE, we will see more rigs being equipped to cater for the diverse gas finds and sour gas projects, such as the Hail and Ghasha mega-project.
There is an increasing demand for fixing and equipping old platforms to cater for today’s sustainable approach.

Tell us about the Atlanta FPSO conversion project and your works for Technip Energies subsidiary KANFA’s Module M10.
In May 2022, we signed a contract with Yinson Production to upgrade, refurbish and convert an FPSO vessel. The upgraded Atlanta FPSO will be delivered in Q3 of 2023 to Brazil’s Enauta at the offshore Atlanta field in the Santos Basin. Signing a contract for this project reflects our proven technical capabilities and track record. It also reinforces the long-term viability of the “Make it in the Emirates” initiative.
In October 2022, we also began the construction of a new topside oil production module, M10, for KANFA, which will be deployed at the offshore Karish field in the Eastern Mediterranean. Our scope of work includes the procurement of bulk materials – structure, piping, electrical and instrumentation – as well as the fabrication, surface treatment including PFP [passive fire protection] application, mechanical completion, load out and sea fastening for the module. Once finished, the module will be transported to the Karish field for integration onto the Energean Power FPSO.

How are you embracing robotics and automation?
Robotics has become pivotal to our day-to-day activities. For instance, we introduced Robotic Profiling Machine RPC1200S in 2019, and we are constantly applying new robotic and automation solutions at different stages – from the construction design to 3D and 4D cutting – and all of it linked through software.
On this note, the south area of our yard will be almost completely automated soon. The automation of our south yard will support man-powered labour by increasing efficiency and our people’s safety and reducing time and costs for the end client. For instance, already a few operators control everything from their corresponding cabins. The same goes for our new generation cranes, which require no onsite operator. Everything can be programmed, automated, or remotely controlled. We recently ordered four new cranes from Italy which are also hybrid, using fuel and electricity.
Continuous efforts to upgrade and innovate processes and machinery at our facility enable us to stay ahead of the competition and keep operational and safety standards to the highest degree. We believe that to embrace Industry 4.0, our most valuable asset is our people. To this end, in the coming years we aim to retain skillsets, know-how and talent while we invest to build more capable individuals who make up the essence of who we are.

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