Yves J.G. De Leeneer, Managing Director, DEEPBLUE, Singapore
”Singapore provides world class know how through the people available in the country and through the multiple institutions and companies present here in the Oil, Gas and Offshore Industry. Singapore also provides a brand synonymous with legitimacy, transparency and quality and therefore being associated with such a country generates a positive image for DEEPBLUE,” explains Yves De Leeneer, Founder & Managing Director of DEEPBLUE about why Singapore was chosen as the company’s headquarters.
What is the business model of DEEPBLUE?
I founded DEEPBLUE in 2008 to supply engineering, design and consultancy support to the offshore Oil & Gas, and Energy industry throughout Asia-Pacific. Drawing on my work experience in naval architecture, offshore and subsea engineering, I had realized for some time that there was a serious demand for quality offshore installation engineering. At the time, the type of engineering required was only performed by major oilfield service companies such as Technip, Acergy, Subsea 7. I could see that there were many new players that owned vessels but lacked the technical capacity to create detailed design and engineering solutions. Consequently, there was a window of opportunity within the offshore value chain that could be exploited. We then grew further to include the different phases for offshore developments, from feasibility studies, pre-FEED, FEED’s, detailed design and engineering, and finally the capabilities to support the full EPIC phase of projects. Logically, while performing such works we obtained a few years ago ISO accreditation by ABS for: “Provision of Engineering, Consultancy, Design, Supply of Equipment / Systems, and Project Management for the Offshore and Marine Industries.”
DEEPBLUE’s primary service revolves around offering major oil, gas and energy partners specialized and bespoke engineering and design solutions at a cost-effective price. For instance, we have designed, engineered and supplied numerous mooring and SURF systems and solutions for a range of offshore assets. Now, servicing a global market, DEEPBLUE has expanded its engineering capacity, keeping its focus on quality and on meeting stakeholder and clients demands.
You launched DEEPBLUE during the global financial downturn, at a time when oil prices plummeted to under $50 per barrel. How did you navigate the company during this tumultuous time?
At the time it did not have an adverse effect on DEEPBLUE’s fortunes. Due to the long term nature of investments in the offshore industry, production projects for 2008 and 2009 were financed on the basis of oil prices three or four years prior. In essence, at the height of the financial crisis, offshore projects were already locked in, which negated the immediate impact of the downturn. As a result, the 2008-2009 oil price plunge did not hit DEEPBLUE, and indeed the broad offshore production market, until 2011-2012. This was the most testing period for us.
In a fiercely competitive environment, what can DEEPBLUE offer clients that your competitors cannot?
Our strategy is not to compete with major international players. We endeavour to offer bespoke and quality services at a lower cost compared to major competitors, and this is possible as we maintain a small and agile organization, reducing administrative overheads as much as possible. We do not focus on the holistic and complete subsea sector. On the contrary, we provide services and engineering to the subsea and vessel production market and this is always linked to a tangible asset such as a FPSOs, FSOs, barges, or semi-submersible rigs. We are operating in a niche area and that is how we distinguish ourselves.
How important have strategic partnerships been in helping DEEPBLUE build an increasingly global footprint?
DEEPBLUE is comprised of experienced personnel from the sub-sea, marine and offshore industry and has an extensive pool of support personnel and partners throughout the Far East region. To facilitate our international expansion and better serve our customers, we have established strategic partnerships with engineering offices in Jakarta, Mumbai, Lagos, and Houston.
These partnerships have been crucial in supplementing and supporting our global vision. For instance, having forged close ties with several organizations allows us to call upon their pool of talent if we need assistance with a specific project. Simultaneously, this allows us to run a lean, flexible and adaptable business. Our presence and brand is continuously expanding. We have worked with major oil and gas clients, including PTTEP, Lundin, Bumi Armada, KEI, MODEC, Bureau Veritas, Prosafe, ONGC, Chevron and Petrofac, to name just a few.
How would you describe the corporate philosophy of DEEPBLUE?
The crux of our business model is to provide and deliver engineering solutions to our clients based on what they need. We listen to our clients analyze their requirements and emphasize that a clear approach of what is required is crucial in order to deliver the right design and engineering within time and budgets and we believe we succeed in doing this at affordable prices. Our philosophical roots are based around being straight with a no nonsense approach. Our business blueprint does not accept procedures or projects that we do not agree with, believe are unrealistic or are against industry and HSE practices. We have lost contracts based on this tenet but ultimately our company must stick to the principles and standards it was built on.
Why was Singapore selected as the headquarters for the company?
Singapore provides world class know how through the people available in the country and through the multiple institutions and companies present here in the Oil, Gas and Offshore Industry. Singapore also provides a brand synonymous with legitimacy, transparency and quality and therefore being associated with such a country generates a positive image for DEEPBLUE. As a responsible company, with strong values, we wanted to be attached to this stamp of quality. Secondly, despite increasing overheads, Singapore has an assortment of positive attributes. Indeed, a number of people champion Kuala Lumpur as a preferable destination to spearhead an offshore oriented company. However, we started here and will stay here, and might expand to Kuala Lumpur in the near future. Yet, the sheer productivity of Singaporean’s is a valuable asset in the business we are in. Thirdly, there is an abundance of activity occurring in Singapore: new mega-shipyards are being built and regional business decisions are conjured and negotiated here. Finally, Singapore has cultivated a very favourable and efficient business environment, particularly for small companies. The tax system is enticing, the SPRING initiatives supportive and ultimately it is easy to set up shop and clear how to keep it going.
What is your three-year plan for DEEPBLUE?
DEEPBLUE has survived volatile times, developed an impressive track record and built a strong client base. Additionally, we have no debt. The company is in a healthy position, and in the light of favorable offshore conditions and strong oil prices, we are interested in developing the company further and possibly attracting external investors.
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