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Interview

with Hugo Heerema, President and CEO of Bluewater, Bluewater

12.03.2010 / Energyboardroom

Bluewater is an outstanding example of a Dutch flagship company which has successfully capitalized on its Dutch expertise and flourishes in international markets. How much of today’s success is dependent on the Dutch market and expertise?

Indeed, the demand of the international oil & gas industry for safe and reliable high-end technologies has always been one of Bluewater’s drivers. Our competences are renowned in mooring technology and all aspects of FPSO design.

Although we are based in Holland, Bluewater is a truly international player. We have a large amount of nationalities working in our company. We do not have any of our technologies applied on the Dutch shelf, but have supplied our systems and services to all corners of the world.
But, admittedly, the Dutch maritime history, the excellent technical educational options available, the Dutch offshore engineering skills developed in the course of time, are second to none and formed a logical starting point for a company like Bluewater to build on. The Dutch have always lived from the sea and have always fought off the sea in order to survive, it is in our genes to have strongly developed maritime industries.

What are the main international markets for Bluewater and what have been its most sought-after services and principal growth drivers?

Bluewater now has FPSOs operating in the UK, Norway, China, until recently South Africa and as of mid 2011 in the Timor, Australia. Bluewater’s niche markets are areas with exposed environmental conditions, stringent regulatory requirements, where its high spec FPSOs are ideally suited for. Also areas where production takes place fully on DP are on our list. One can think of early production in extreme water depths e.g. the US Gulf, Brazil.

Or areas where due to typhoons or hurricanes it is a requirement to utilize a disconnectable turret mooring system.

Bluewater has supplied complex mooring towers in very exposed areas in China, off Sakhalin Island, and in the Caspian Sea. Some of these systems were applied in arctic conditions. Bluewater has supplied the majority of North Sea turrets, and has its own successful disconnectable turret mooring system.

It also has supplied over 100 external, internal, and disconnectable mooring systems, mooring towers, and CALMs (loading/offloading terminals) all over the world. In the near future there will be LNG FPSOs for which Bluewater has designs for moorings and for offloading systems, and for which it holds the patent for a superior cryogenic hose for loading and offloading LNG.

Bluewater also has a reputation for safe operation of its own FPSOs, again also in areas with stringent regulatory requirements. Apart from mooring systems and FPSOs we are also venturing into the Renewable Energy area. Bluewater is developing promising technologies in the marine renewables (tidal/current energy), where it can combine its core know-how and its project management experience with those of others.

Our main growth drivers are given in by the needs in our core areas, by the world’s need to produce offshore oil and gas. And by the oil price developments over time.

In 2009 and 2010 we do not see much growth though. The worldwide financial/economical tide needs to improve, the oil price needs to be stable at an acceptable level, demand has to rise, trust needs to be restored. And once all that is there, the oil companies will start investing again. It is my belief that as of 2012 we will see a long boom period in our part of this industry.

What’s your strategy to penetrate new markets and engage in long-term partnerships worldwide and what challenges does this bring to the company?

We form many ad hoc partnerships and joint-ventures, depending on local knowledge and experience, the right technology, skills or equipment. The right partner in Brazil may not be the right partner in Norway or Malaysia.

I would not call our Clients partners, but once you lease an FPSO to them they do become parties with a long term and aligned interest. Such long term relationships have been there a.o. with Hess, Shell, Statoil, Nexen, PetroSA, Talisman, CNOOC.

The challenges that the company faces are more of the technical type, such as the development of offloading systems for LNG FPSOs including the further development of the cryogenic hose, further developments of floating production cum mooring systems in arctic areas, and the development of successful i.e. economical technologies in renewable energy.

In such a tight labor market where the majority of experienced engineers are about to retire, companies across the board are lacking a young and skilled workforce; how does Bluewater manage to attract and retain the best talent within its ranks?

We pay our skilled personnel at market, working at Bluewater means that you are further developed in your know how areas and through job rotation can find out where in the organization you can maximize your potential. Also on whether you are more of a manager/generalist or more of a specialist. The company offers interesting personal growth opportunities, due to the scope of services ranging from design, engineering, turnkey supply of systems to operating of our fleet of FPSOs.

What are your main ambitions for Bluewater in the coming years and how do you see the Dutch Oil and Gas industry evolving?

Bluewater aims to stay a leader in the design and supply of straightforward to very complex Single Point Mooring systems, and stay a leading Builder-Owner-Operator of leased FPSOs.

The Dutch Oil and Gas supply and service industry will maintain its strong worldwide presence, growth naturally will be stronger outside the Netherlands, but that won’t be new to any of the players.

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