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Lloyds List: Offshore rides crest of a wave

Aberdeen-based company is on expansion drive, Lloyds List
Published: Jul 02, 2007

ABERDEEN-based Bibby Offshore is one of the fastest growing parts of the Bibby Line Group. It has expanded from 20 staff in 2005 to nearly 100 today, this year it will step up from one to three diving support vessels in its fleet, and in October it is due to expand into new offices on Waterloo Quay.

Bibby’s involvement in the offshore sector goes back to the 1980s, the decade when the company bought its first jack-up platform. In 1993, the company entered the management and manning of floating storage units and floating production facilities in 1993, when it won a contract with Chevron for the Alba field.

Bibby has operated and managed the Alba FSU since then, in a contract that has won Bibby two safety performance awards in the past two years.

Last year, Bibby Offshore won the management of FPS Ocean’s panamax oil tanker Nordic Laurita, which is being converted to an FPS.

Bibby entered the diving sector in 2003 with the acquisition of the DSV Bibby Aquamarine and it was after introducing its DSV activities that Bibby Offshore was created as a separate company within Bibby Line.

‘In previous contracts we had either provided operational or management services but the difference now is that we can provide the full turnkey service,’ says Bibby Offshore managing director Howard Woodcock.

‘The main thing we do is subsea construction, repair and maintenance. We undertake engineering, procurement, installation and commissioning contracts, flexible and umbilical installation, manifold and spool construction and installation, and engineering and design work for clients.

‘We work in the North Sea but we have also worked in Egypt, Trinidad and the Caribbean. We work on new fields and on maintenance and expansion of old fields and infrastructure.’

In 2005, the company took a new offshore construction vessel on long-term charter from Volstad; the Bibby Sapphire’s first contract was to install wellhead protection structures for Shell Corrib off the west coast of Ireland.

Early in 2006, the Bibby Sapphire went to Northwestern Ship Repairers’ yard on the Mersey, for conversion to a full saturation DSV.

Bibby Sapphire went back into service in March this year. In September the company will take delivery of the newbuilding DSV Bibby Topaz, which was launched in March and is now being fitted out in Trondheim.

This vessel will have a twin bell 18-man saturation diving system with a working depth capacity of 300 m.

‘She is designed with extreme low motion characteristics, giving her excellent seakeeping and station holding ability,’ says Mr Woodcock.

‘The Topaz is an even bigger version of Bibby Sapphire, and the first DSV purpose-built for Bibby and also the first built in the industry for a long time.’

The Bibby Topaz is 107 m long, 22 m beam, has accommodation for 110 people and is equipped with a 150-ton capacity crane.

It is targeted at the medium to heavy construction market initially in the North Sea, but the vessel will be available worldwide.

‘Topaz is fully booked until early 2008, but has some time available after that,’ says Mr Woodcock.

Bibby Offshore is undertaking some of its biggest construction work ever this year.

‘We have a completely full season for our three vessels and we are growing our engineering and procurement and logistics and design capabilities every day,’ he says.

Among current projects are Shell Caravel in the southern North Sea and PetroCanada’s Saxon development in the central North Sea a large tie-back and manifold project in which Bibby is building and installing a 70-tonne structure.

Bibby will also shortly be started a new long-term IRM (inspection, repair and maintenance) contract for Talisman.

Other clients have included BP, Total and Maersk Oil & Gas.

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