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Interview

with Anko Bos, Branch Manager for Russia, Van Oord

17.08.2011 / Energyboardroom

Van Oord began back in 1863 but is relatively new to the Russian market. What would you define as the strategic interest of this to the company and what do you bring to Russia?

The oil and gas industry in Russia is booming and this has attracted Van Oord to the market. Van Oord is a dredging and marine contractor with several areas of focus. Primarily, our activities concern dredging and offshore construction . For a couple of years the company has been delivering trenching services in Russia’s Baydaratskaya Bay. Van Oord is also working in Sakhalin on several projects. Another one of the main services is the installation of pipelines and the company assisted last year in the North Stream project. Van Oord delivers world leading capabilities and indeed there are few companies who can provide the services of Van Oord.

Van Oord provides the same services in Russia as it does in other parts of the world. Therefore, the company has a lot of experience and practice with the services that it provides to the Russian market. Whether the project is in Africa or Australia Van Oord has a wealth of experience to meet the needs of its clients. In the 1980s Van Oord was active in the Beaufort Sea north of Canada. This experience can be combined with our experience elsewhere in the world to meet the specific requirements of Russia. Indeed, because of Van Oord’s experience in the Beaufort Sea the company now has some specialised equipment and vessels which are ice-class and adapted for dealing with Russia’s arctic seas. Therefore, when Van Oord started on the Baydratskaya Bay project the company already had the equipment and knew how to operate in this environment.

The company is a Netherlands-based company with a head office that is located in Rotterdam. The regional offices take equipment from the company’s technical department. Both equipment including dredging vessels and knowledge about working worldwide is gathered in one place which makes it easy to initiate projects.

Although the company has experience operating internationally, it should be said that there are certain challenges uniquely present in the Russian market. In order to enter Russian waters you need to have a flag waiver and a cabotage permit. Moreover, to sail from Murmansk to Baydaratskaya Bay the Northern Sea Route is to be used, which needs also permission and which grants assistance from ice-breakers. Russia is a vast country and there are virtually no ports or infrastructure. In these remote areas you have to arrange for food, brokerage and your own logistics scheme. Everyone entering the area also needs a border-pass. I would therefore identify logistics as the most challenging aspect of the industry.

How can your company contribute to the expansion of Russia’s oil and gas infrastructure in the arctic?

Plans in the arctic are triggered by developments in the offshore industry. For example there is a project called ObBay or Sabetta Just as the Teriberka port was triggered by the Shtokman project this is being driven by industry demands.

Van Oord has a unique product. There are only a few companies in the world with dredges, fallpipe vessels and backhoe vessels like ours. Van Oord has the largest fleet of any company operating in our field. Furthermore, the company has initiated an investment programme for vessels. Between 2011 and 2015 the company will be investing €1 billion in new equipment.

In September the company is putting into operation its self-propelled cutter suction vessel, which is one of the largest in its class. At the same time the company will christen a new fallpipe vessel which is also one of the largest in the world.

Given these capabilities, how are you positioned in the Russian market?

The Morskoy Facad and the Baydaratskaya Bay projects have been highlighting our capabilities. The company started some 6 years ago with an office in St. Petersburg and has expanded geographically with an office in Moscow, one in Sakhalin because this is where many more projects are foreseen. The company is working hard on developing capabilities to provide answers to potential questions emerging in the Russian market.

This year, the company started its own Shallow Water Laybarge division. In the past Van Oord has already undertaken several projects with the installation of pipes and even a crossing of 35km., but at present, we are expanding our activities by looking at a dedicated Shallow Water Laybarge with dimensions that suit activities in water depths from 5-100 metres.

Clearly the technical issue is not a problem for carrying out projects in Russia. What are the specificities of the business side?

One of the good things about the Russian market is that clients do not value the price as the only factor to base decisions on..
The important factor is that the project must be good, the client must know that quality is guaranteed and that you provide everything according to the agreed schedule. When Van Oord carries out a shore approach of a pipe the date that the large deepsea laybarges get involved is crucial and all should be done to mitigate delays. The trench and the pipepull has to be ready on time.

Russians are fairly unforgiving when it comes to schedule demands and the modalities of a project. Russian companies will also insist on projects being carried out in a specific way.

Do you feel that the Russian industry is developing an understanding of how to operate which is more in line with European standards?

Standards are there to create a mutual understanding. There are differing vocabularies relating to soil types and there are different interpretations of health and safety. Currently, Russian companies are shifting more and more towards western standards. Van Oord’s added value comes in the size of the fleet with specialised operators. The company is very competitive in quality, scheduling and providing everything that has been promised.

In terms of your positioning where do you see Van Oord eventually ranking in the Russian market?

Van Oord will be a leading company in the fields of dredging and backfilling of trenches, rock supply and also Gravity Based Structural (GBS) installations. In each of these disciplines, Van Oord will easily be able to market its knowledge and expertise.

Russia is certainly not a market that the company would want to miss out on. There are several markets which are booming at the moment from Australia to Brazil. Van Oord will do everything to establish and reinforce its leading position in Russia. Indeed, Russia has the capability to flourish however, it would be better if all of us better appreciated that early planning is of great importance. The earlier Van Oord is involved the easier it is to organise all the logistics for the project. This is necessary simply to ensure that a client’s needs are fulfilled.

Finally how would you like to be seen in the Russian market?

Van Oord would like to be a one-stop-shop where everything in marine construction is provided from engineering, procurement through to construction. We want to be the number one contractor for dredging, trenching, back filling, rock installation, GBS installation and shallow water pipelay. Ultimately we will be the offshore company which offers everything from the placement of a GBS, the installation of an SPM to the complete nearshore package for the production pipe to the shore.

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