Zamil Offshore’s Babak Jabbari discusses the opportunities presenting themselves in the Middle East and the company’s process for reactivating vessels from layup
Headquartered in Al Khobar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Zamil Offshore is one of several OSV owners benefitting from an upswing in drilling activity in the Middle East, underpinned by major capital investment led by Saudi Aramco.
As a result of its long-standing relationship with Saudi Aramco, Zamil Offshore is supporting several Long-Term Agreement (LTA) contractors selected under the Saudi national oil company’s programme.
“We are basically all over the Aramco fields,” says Zamil Offshore general manager marine operations Babak Jabbari, “but as for specific projects, we are supporting the main LTA contractors, such as Saipem and McDermott.”
Zamil Offshore inked a joint venture (JV) agreement with McDermott International in April to target the maintenance, modifications and operations (MMO) market in Saudi Arabia.
Under the JV, McDermott and Zamil are working together on an exclusive basis to provide Saudi Aramco with comprehensive offshore brownfield engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) solutions and asset maintenance services. The JV underpins the in-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) programme and local content commitments, and supports Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to increase local content, diversify revenue streams and improve the skills and experience of the local workforce.
“We are hiring due to the expansion in certain segments,” says Mr Jabbari, noting that most of the company’s new hires are Saudis, but other offshore oil and gas regions are strengthening, too, such as Southeast Asia and the Asia subcontinent.
A veteran of the marine industry, with more than 25 years’ experience, Mr Jabbari heads up Zamil Offshore subsidiary Zamil Marine, which owns, manages and operates a fleet of over 65 vessels. Zamil Offshore has a relatively young fleet composed of dynamic positioning class 2-capable UT 733-2 design anchor-handling tug supply (AHTS) vessels, supply boats, dive support vessels, self-propelled jack-up lift barges, crew boats and utility boats.
Mr Jabbari explains that Zamil Marine will not build new vessels unless it has a contract in place. “Only upon award,” he says, adding “we are very careful building or buying any assets on speculation.”
Since it was founded as a 100% Saudi company in 1977, Zamil Offshore has grown to become one of the largest OSV owners and service suppliers in the Middle East. Headed by chief executive Sufyan Al Zamil, Zamil Offshore has a diversified business portfolio, covering offshore marine and diving services, vessel chartering, ship chandlery, offshore construction and hook-up projects, shipbuilding, vessel and rig repairs, and port operation and management.
Subsidiary Zamil Offshore Construction upgrades, modifies and commissions offshore platforms, wellheads and other offshore-related construction.
Another subsidiary, Zamil Shipyards, manages and operates three shipyards, two in Dammam and one in Jeddah; it also manages the pilotage in King Abdulaziz Seaport, where 2,400 vessels call on an annual basis. Founded in 2002, Zamil Shipyard has built and delivered more than 50 vessels, about half of which were for the offshore market, including seven UT 722 AHTS vessels.
With offshore activity picking up, one of the chief concerns of the OSV industry has been the reactivation of vessels in layup. Mr Jabbari says that Zamil Marine has been extremely cautious when it comes to maintaining tonnage in layup and reactivating any vessels.
“We have reactivated some after a warm layup,” he says. “We have a detailed layup plan, and have a team looking after the main machinery on a daily basis, so the reactivation is not an issue. But again, these are mainly warm layups of three to six months only,” he explains.