Maersk Supply Service

Deep-sea specialists

Boasting an ever growing fleet of almost 60 vessels and a history that dates back over five decades, Maersk Supply Service dominates the international support vessel market.

With its head-office in Copenhagen Denmark the company has combined a durable range of ships with a worldwide service to the offshore industry that combines high-performance, innovation, reliability, quality and safety to become the leader in the field of tow-out and installation of offshore systems.

That position is likely to be further strengthened in the near future as the company is scheduled to roll out 18 new vessels over the next two and half years, which will boost a fleet that is already second to none.

Today’s success is based on Maersk Supply Service’s rich tradition in the oil and gas industry. “The company has been in existence for more than 40 years,” says managing director, Carsten Plougmann Andersen. “We were the first Scandinavian ship owner to enter the offshore business when the concession was agreed to explore for oil and gas in the Danish area of the North Sea. We have expanded steadily over the years, and today we have a fleet of 55 vessels operating at the high end of the market. We currently employ 1600 seafarers who make up highly educated and trained, international crews from Denmark, the UK, Canada and Brazil, with a further 200 people working onshore.”

Detailing how Maersk Supply Service aids some of the oil and gas industry’s main players with their deep water operations, Carsten explains: “A lot of rigs have their own mooring systems, but in deeper waters we use what are known as pre-moored systems. When a rig is disconnected, it can be moved to a location where a vessel has already employed the anchors, wires and chains, so no time is wasted. Our larger vessels and highly trained crews are easily able to do this and in a safe and professional fashion, and with oil companies being charged $400,000-$500,000 a day for drilling rigs, time is of the essence.”

As part of an ongoing programme of expansion, improvement and investment, Maersk Supply Service has spent $1.4 billion on 18 new vessels. They are all in the process of being built, with ten under construction in Norway, six in Germany and two in Chile. They will be delivered over a period of two and a half years from June 2008 onwards. Furthermore, the company has improved its existing fleet, as Carsten explains: “We plan to refine our products so that the vessels we have or the new builds are equipped with the equipment to carry out sub-sea work. We have recently installed 250 tonne cranes on some of our vessels, which are capable of working in waters that are up to 2500m deep.

“In the future we there will be an increased amount of sub-sea completion work, especially in the deeper waters, which we can assist. Historically many of these projects have been carried out or installed by expensive rigs or crane barges – now our vessels are able to carry that out.”

There are also plans to sell some of the older vessels. “Like everybody else in this industry, we have to be selective,” says Carsten. “We are looking to expand in a safe and proper fashion; it is a controlled offensive so while we do expect to end up with upwards of 65 vessels, part of the plan is to sell some of the older vessels”. For example, since European Oil and Gas Magazine spoke to Carsten, the company has sold its 1988-built ‘Maersk Launcher’ to Transport Contractors Management BV.

Speaking to Carsten, it becomes clear that he holds his employees in extremely high regard, and sees them as being as important as Maersk Supply Service’s fleet of vessels. “It’s not all about hardware,” he insists. “It is very important to have the right crews with the right education, there is an increased demand for certification and the expectation that personnel have the right qualifications and training.” That ethos is best illustrated by the $8 million that has been spent on two anchorhandling and DP-simulators for the company’s training school – a facility that Carsten says is used almost “round the clock.”

Given the commitment to improvement of both the fleet and employees training, it is understandable how Maersk Supply Service has become the clear market leader in its sector. And in an industry that is going from strength to strength, Carsten is confident that the company will continue to prosper. “With oil prices at more than $100 a barrel, we believe that 2008 and 2009 will be good years.”

Looking forward, Carsten concludes: “Our focus in the coming years will continue to be on deep-water and sub-sea areas. We see the Far East and Australia as growing areas and the North Sea, as a mature and steady region, will remain important to us. But as a company we want to be where the action is and we believe that will primarily be Brazil and West Africa in the coming years.”

Maersk Supply Service

Services Tow-out and offshore installation