Hull Support Services Ltd.

Hull Support Services Ltd. (HSSL) has a large vision. In serving the offshore oil and gas and subsea construction industries, Director and COO Douglas Boyce stresses that “anything done above water, we do below water.”

The company’s services fall into three revenue streams: core, non-core and shared-core. Its core division consists of diving, which provides services such as engineering and design, and mechanical fabrication. ROV Services Trinidad Ltd. completes its core services. Though it is a separate entity, the two share administrative and operational functions and HSSL leverages its remote-operated vehicle capabilities.

Its non-core services include products such as corrosion protection systems and concrete strengthening and restoration systems. The shared-core services rounds out the company’s three main focuses, in which its readily available core and non-core services can be outsourced to companies inside and outside of its Trinidad and Tobago home base.

“Our core services bring in 90 percent of the work,” Boyce says. “That consists of our diving and ROV services. That’s what we started on in 2000 and [there has] been a lot of emphasis put on that. But when the slowdown hit a few years ago, and because of our remote location, we needed to be flexible. We needed to be able to focus more than ever on providing different services to buffer the highs and lows.”

Forming strategic alliances has been key to HSSL’s current growth, and Boyce believes it will be even more influential in its future. Currently, HSSL holds alliances with companies from Trinidad, the United Kingdom and West Africa.

“In working with our partners, we bring a certain level of technical and physical resources and competency to them,” Boyce says. “If the work is here, our partners will get a localized knowledge. However, if the work is elsewhere, our approach is not to come and take over but to help our partners develop. And as they move forward, we move forward with them.”

HSSL has teamed with several West African companies to assist with a variety of services in countries such as Nigeria, which has a strong oil and gas market. South America is another HSSL regional focus. It has performed work in Venezuela and plans to expand farther south into countries such as Brazil. Currently, it holds strategic relationships with Suriname Diving Inc. and Guiana Diving Inc. in northern South America. HSSL works with these companies to provide offshore diving capability in Suriname and Guiana.

“As we performed work in Trinidad we received inquiries and began doing small jobs on the islands,” he says. “It developed slowly, and now we are more focused on that. We went into Suriname and Guiana and developed relationships in those countries. The oil and gas industry is new to them. They are still in the exploratory phases. It may take a few years to start seeing development but we have made steps to get in there and establish ourselves.”

Think Long-term
Boyce says HSSL is a small company that carefully plans which services it will provide and which markets it will enter. Its decision are made to ensure longevity.

“With the overall slowdown back in 2008 and 2009, it shook out all the fly-by-night companies,” Boyce says. “From the companies that are still in operation, clients are looking for more depth and more competence. We are subject to more scrutiny and audits by our clients. Over the last year, we have [become] a more efficient and better company.”

HSSL received ISO 9000:2008 certification in May 2011. In preparation for its audit, HSSL focused heavily on its health, safety and environment and performance management policies to ensure it aligns with ISO standards. The company is also a member of the International Marine Contractors Association and the Association of Diving Contractors. Both groups require a certain level of safety management and quality guidelines, which HSSL demonstrates from its zero lost-time accidents during its 11 years of operation.

Boyce says HSSL has not had to lay off a single employee because of the downturn. Instead, it has invested in developing its employees’ skills to align with its new procedures and ISO certification.

“Having that stamp of approval will let our clients know that our company meets the global standard for quality in terms of service,” Boyce says. “It will allow the client to breathe a little easier because they know the standard we will work toward.”