SMIT Harbour Towage saw a good opening of the year. With the total number of ship movements remaining at a stable level compared to the end of 2011 SMIT Harbour Towage experienced increased demand during the first quarter of the year. This was due, to a large extent, to the high level of special assistances rendered during the period.
Loek Kullberg says: “We continue to concentrate on those strategically important areas which serve as the crossroads for the world’s shipping networks. This means giving prominence to ports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp, Panama, Singapore and the main Brazilian centres. At the same time we have withdrawn from certain markets - such as the Baltic and Argentina – where we see more challenging market conditions.
“We are also concentrating on developing major joint ventures across the world regions. In this context, the KST (Keppel SMIT Towage) joint venture performed strongly in the first quarter. KST was on budget and we expect this high performance to continue during the rest of this year."
“One particular feature of KST’s business is its relatively strong level of ‘spot’ activities. There are three elements to KST: the ongoing harbour towage business in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries; time charters for oil and gas terminal support; and, thirdly, a substantial volume of spot work - including towage services for Keppel Shipyard and coastal towage.”
SMIT and SAAM are making good progress in establishing an important joint venture. The intention is to create the leading harbour towage operator in Central and South America, with operations extending into North America. Loek Kullberg explains: “This is an important step in our long-term programme to explore opportunities to develop large joint ventures, based on world regions. In this case, SAAM has existing operations in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Peru and various other countries in Central and South America. SMIT Harbour Towage has a substantial operation in Brazil, together with businesses in Panama and the Canadian West Coast.
We are joining forces with SAAM in terms of network, coverage and tugs. We will work together to serve new, large contracts concerned with harbour towage and terminal support. We aim to have the SMIT-SAAM joint venture running by the end of this year. In all probability, our Brazilian activities will be integrated. We have yet to take a decision on the location for the joint venture’s headquarters.“
“SMIT Harbour Towage will contribute around 60 tugs to the joint venture: 27 in Brazil (including six newbuildings), 10 based in Panama and another 20 in Canadian ports. SAAM will add another 90 tugs, bringing our total fleet to around 150 tugs in all.” Six ASD tugs are now under construction for SMIT Harbour Towage’s operations in Brazilian ports. The first of the 47 tonnes bollard pull tugs, 'Smit Pataxo', is due for delivery this October. Keppel Singmarine’s Brazilian yard will deliver the remaining five over the 12 months to October 2013.
Recent developments relating to SMIT Harbour Towage during the first half of 2012 include SMIT Amandla Marine’s success in obtaining a new contract to service a coal export terminal at the port of Beira, in Mozambique. Loek Kullberg comments: “This is a very encouraging development, as we intend to extend our activities throughout Southern Africa. We are now looking hard at Angola, where we already have a track record in terminals support and transport activities but have yet to secure a harbour towage contract.”
In Northwest Europe, following the award of a new, seven-year concession for harbour towage at the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, two new 85 tonnes bollard pull Rotor tugs have been deployed to this port. They began work at Zeebrugge in early May. The 'Smit Kiwi' and 'Smit Emoe' are newbuildings purchased from KST’s yard in Singapore. They succeed 'Smit Onyx' and 'Smit Topaz' which are being deployed to Australia, to work on a new Boskalis project.
In Australia, there have been positive developments surrounding the existing GPC contract at the port of Gladstone. Here, SMIT has been requested to begin preparations to build two new tugs for the British Gas LNG Terminal at Gladstone. It is likely that these 70 tonnes bollard pull tugs will be built in Turkey.
In the Far East, the KST joint venture is now responsible for harbour towage operations in Chinese ports (which currently involve six tugs). Furthermore, KST will shortly take responsibility for the SMIT Kueen Yang harbour towage joint venture in Taiwan.
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