Oman Drydock Company (ODC), a member of ASYAD Group — the government’s logistics development arm — is targeting a roughly 40 per cent jump in traffic to its world-class ship repair and maintenance yard at Duqm on the Sultanate’s Wusta coast. From around 80 vessels presently calling for repairs and dry-docking per annum, ODC plans to ramp up this figure to 110 calls in 2018, rising to 130 ships in 2019, the company’s chief executive officer, Stephan Aumann (pictured), said.
In remarks to the Observer, Aumann added that efforts to grow the yard’s order-book are being pursued in parallel with a broader strategy that aims to offer a full-fledged and wholesome “service portfolio” to its expanding customer base.
“Our goal is to complete our portfolio of service offerings to meet all of the requirements and expectations of our customers,” said the CEO. “To this end, we are encouraging the manufacturers of, say, ship engines, generators and other parts of the main engine room, to set up workshops in our yard here in Duqm. This will make us less dependent on external workshops and service providers, such as those based in Dubai, which incur costs in time delays and logistics. By having workshops on site, we will have the flexibility to meet the requirements of our customers.”
According to Aumann, a complete service portfolio is targeted to be substantially in place by the third quarter of 2018 — a goal that is also key to attracting greater numbers of ships to the yard for repairs and maintenance.
“Upon the completion of our service portfolio, we would be in a far better position to attract more customers, as well as fulfil our ambition to position ODC as a one-stop ship repair destination. We are using the ‘chicken-and-egg’ argument to encourage the main vendors of engine room parts to set up their service facilities here in Duqm through joint ventures and cooperative arrangements,” the CEO said, noting that investments in these workshops will come primarily from private entrepreneurs.
The drive to augment ODC’s service capabilities comes as the yard is on track to welcoming sometime next year its 600th vessel since it was soft-launched in 2011. Quite aptly, the 600th ship will likely be an Omani flagged vessel belonging to the wholly government owned Oman Shipping Company, also part of ASYAD Group.
Aumann is also upbeat about ODC’s business and growth objectives for 2018.
“There are a lot targets we aim to achieve in 2018,” he said. “We want to increase the number of ships coming into the yard, boost our sales and marketing activities, explore other business streams to increase our revenues, and review our procedures and processes in order to become more efficient and productive. Our broader goal is to improve the bottom-line as well. We want to achieve all of these objectives substantially by the middle or third quarter of 2018.”
Also on the table is a proposal to acquire a floating dock, although the timing for the investment is yet to be finalised, said Aumann.
The Duqm Naval Dockyard, the newly launched JV between ODC and Britain’s Babcock International Group, also has a floating dock outlined in its business plans, he explained, noting that the JV would have more reason to make the investment given the floating dock’s suitability in the repair and maintenance of naval vessels.