Rado Antolovic-1687337269369
"Our location in Dubai is fundamental to our success." said Antolovic. "In regards to Asia, the EPC division is aimed at opening up the demand for a wider range of fabrication projects we envisage coming from the East." Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Part of the DP World universe, Dubai’s Drydocks World sure has all bases covered.

Even as the ship repair, maintenance and conversion company expands its base in Dubai, it has a new yard going in Europe – the Adriatic42 in Montenegro. A facility that is scouting actively for contracts related to the upkeep of super-yachts. In that particular part of Europe, prospects of netting such deals are rich, so to speak.

And for the Far East, Dubai Drydocks has a new strategy slotting into place. While it won’t be acquiring any shipyard like it did in Europe, the plans do come with possibilities.

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What the company has done is set up an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) division.

This would mean ‘utilising our engineering capabilities to provide comprehensive solutions for projects, including refurbishments and green solution conversions for BWTS (ballast water treatment and management system), EGCS (Exhaust Gas Cleaning System) and FSRU (Floating Storage and Regasification Unit) retrofits’, said Capt. Rado Antolovic, the Drydocks World CEO.

“Our location in Dubai is fundamental to our success. In regards to Asia, the EPC division is aimed at opening up the demand for a wider range of fabrication projects we envisage coming from the East. “Our EPC division and the new South Yard in Dubai allows us to be well equipped to cater to business from Asia.”

Ever since Drydocks World landed the shipyard in Montenegro, there had been intense speculation about it repeating the same in the Far East. More so after all the volatility the global shipping went through during the Covid times.

It was also a phase when the company – and its Dubai base – really came into its own, handling repair and maintenance for some big vessels. That run from 2020 continues to this day, according to the CEO.

Stock-Adriatic-42 Image Credit: Supplied

No slow down on new wins

“There is a huge amount of backlog in refurbishment and maintenance in the maritime industry,” said Antolovic. “Much of this has to do with the new build market associated with China, and there is plenty of demand for upgrading existing fleets to extend the lifespan. With so much coming online, the market is very healthy.

“Drydocks World has been operating at full capacity since the start of 2023 thanks to a steady flow of orders and bookings.”

The first three months had more than 60 confirmed repair orders, and a ‘sold out yard occupancy until the end of August’. Enquiries have stretched out all the way to the year-end.

“Thanks to the high demand of jack-ups in the UAE region, coupled with Drydocks World’s quick turnaround time,” said Antolovic. “We are currently dealing with 13 jack-ups in the yard, and expect a minimum of 10 to 12 more rig projects by the end of the year.

“Separately, we are also going through a busy period with large conversion and new build projects, which includes the completion of a large FPSO upgrade/conversion project.

“Overall, the performance for Q1-23 has been above par and we expect this level of performance - and execution - to continue for rest of the year thanks to an observable increased demand in the market for oil and gas projects. (This) we expect to inevitably lead to additional conversion and new build projects in the second and third quarters of this year.”

Adriatic42’s proximity to 450 berths at Adriatic Marinas Porto Montenegro will feed the demand for such facilities. We believe that this facility will have a good return on investment.

- Capt. Rado Antolovic of Drydocks World

Then there is the ‘South Yard’

The South Yard development in Dubai is due for completion this year. It will give another 70,000 square metres to the Drydocks World portfolio.

“It is being developed to increase our fabrication capacity incorporating new technologies that will benefit oil, gas and renewable energy clients,” said the CEO. “The South Yard will have the latest automation and robotic process lines with provisions for specialized coating areas.

“This will have a faster, cleaner turnaround for these projects. The workload ahead of us also has driven investments into other areas of yard uplift like adding on shore cranes on all the berth and fabrication spaces, additional berthing facility for the rigs, extension of the pipe department to increase exotic pipe fabrication capacity, robotic blasting painting and more.”

Clearly, Drydocks World has worked out ways to keep all its bases covered – for now and the medium-term.