Create added value with contract-based offshore

Create added value with contract-based offshore

With the completion of KINGSBORG, Wagenborg Offshore director Edwin de Vries has five ‘walk to work’ vessels operational in the southern North Sea under a long-term contract within ten years. This success comes from the trust that offshore operators have in the transparent and service-led working methods of Wagenborg. “We're now seeing an interest in our vessels from other parts of the world”, says De Vries.

Although at the end of the 1990s, Wagenborg Offshore started with a series of specialist vessels in the Caspian Sea, the focus of the youngest Wagenborg division has shifted. De Vries: “It was a significant decision to sell all the assets in Kazakhstan and to fully withdraw from that area due to the strong reduction in activities. Our experiences there formed the foundation for later developments. Then we chose to focus on long-term contracts and to grow with ‘dedicated’ vessels in the ‘walk-to-work’ market. The Kroonborg, our first ‘walk-to-work’ vessel from 2013, was really important to us.”

Specialist in a niche

After introducing the Kroonborg, Wagenborg managed to continue the intended growth. “We specialised in certain niches, such as ‘walk to work’, sailing in ice, in shallow waters, and with a contractor or our client on board, literally and metaphorically. Talking about our clients: they really see us as a specialist. Our fleet of ‘walk-to-work’ vessels is like a Swiss army knife for our clients. We are a hotel at sea: each day we have some 300 employees of our clients on board. Every day, we take these people to and from work. We also make sure they can carry their equipment and their tools. The systems on board the vessels are crucial to supporting our clients’ operations - for example an Ampelmann gangway, a fully motion-compensated crane, or a ‘daughter craft’. We are focused on ‘hostmanship’: our catering is fantastic, and we have excellent Wi-Fi on board. Comfort is everything.

"Our people on shore and on board are truly one team. We will do anything for each other!"

Intangible aspects

You'd think that most shipping companies could provide those kinds of technical solutions. Practice suggests otherwise. “The secret of our success is in the intangible stuff”, comments De Vries. “Our people on shore and on board are truly one team. We will do anything for each other, we are clear to each other, and simply proud of our work, service, and our company. Quality and safety take top priority. That pays in practice: everyone in our company can empathise with the client and that means our clients are served to best effect. As a result, our clients can focus fully on their own business operations. That is appreciated, because oil and gas companies want to scale up their production in a responsible manner, in view of our times, and work more efficiently: with our vessel concepts we enable them to up their ‘hands-on-tool time’!”

Opportunities with the energy transition

The energy transition is producing many opportunities in the offshore industry. De Vries explains: “We really notice a change. On the one hand, the oil and gas companies are trying to extract the maximum from their fields. On the other, offshore wind is a relatively new player in the energy transition, where investments are enormous and margins relatively small. We could provide much more added value in offshore wind if parties would enter into a partnership with us on the basis of ‘operational excellence’. It is completely normal for us to share a totally transparent open-book calculation with our clients. It's the only way to create mutual openness and trust and to optimise the ‘total cost of ownership’. I notice that there is a momentum in the market to see us as a partner and to discuss those types of cooperation for the future.”

The energy transition also means that ‘decommissioning’ is becoming a more common topic of discussion. “Wagenborg Offshore has an important role to play there too”, smiles De Vries. “Our vessels can just as easily assist with clearing up at sea. Consider oil and gas platforms, or wind farms at the end of their lifespan.”

"It is completely normal for us to share a totally transparent open-book calculation with our clients."


In other words, there are plenty of developments and if it were up to Wagenborg, we’d move with the times. De Vries: “My dream is for us to hold an important position in the energy service market. More specifically that means that we will have to grow to an average of 10 vessels. To achieve that, we aim to start a new long-term contract every two years. I’m absolutely certain that ‘contract-based offshore’ has a future for Wagenborg. I would also be proud if we are still the team we are today on shore and at sea: people who want to work for each other, who try to improve together, who haul in new contracts, who have fun together, and who help our clients to become more productive. And if I look at myself: I hope that I will not have to leave Wagenborg in 10 years’ time, but that I’m still a part of it, whatever the role. Wagenborg is a fabulous Groningen family business and that is something we need to cherish, protect, and expand together. And with our contract clients.”

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