Outfoxing the market

Workfox is a leading supplier of management services for accommodation and jack-up operators in the North Sea oil and gas market.

Working with leading players in the offshore industry, the business has established itself as one of the major suppliers of operational management capabilities on self-elevating platforms such as the world-renowned Seafox. The company, with headquarters in Hoofddorp (NED), was formed in 1991, and besides providing accommodation services, it offers platform breakdown repairs, structural inspections, and pipeline maintenance.

Managing director Keesjan Cordia elaborates on the services Workfox provides: “We take care of operations – for instance, we provide the hardware that enables oil majors to complete their structural integrity and well services on their existing oil or gas platforms. These issues are mainly driven by the companies’ health and safety issues, governmental authorities and high oil prices. Our fleet consists of the Seafox 1, which was built in 1980; Seafox 2 which was built in 1985; Seafox 3 in 1983; and Seafox 4 in 1976.

“The Seafox 2 underwent major modification and refurbishment in 2006 and the Seafox 1 is due to undergo major modification, including the refurbishment of the existing accommodation to the latest standards and upgrading the power supply so that the new 300 tonne offshore pedestal crane can be serviced with sufficient power and still have operational redundancy,” says Keesjan. “With these kind of upgrades the operating life of the units will be extended without any problems Most of the units on which we operate are in the southern North Sea and on long term contract with the major players in the region.

“For instance, we work with Shell and NAM B.V. on the long-term charter with the Seafox 4, as well as a having a nine-year commitment on the Seafox 2 with Total,” he continues. “We also work with the Seafox 3 unit, which is located in Indonesia and is used as a power supply for the CNOOC field. In addition we also have another unit called the Seafox 6, which is under refurbishment in Singapore, and will be active in the civil construction industry in Australia for an eight to 12 month project. It is important to highlight Workfox’s long-term track record, which is definitely a factor that differentiates us from our competitors. We have been operating these units exclusively for owners for 15 years continuously. The core offshore crew have worked with Workfox for a long time, bringing dedication and expertise to the table in an industry that requires exactly that for safe operations. Workfox is one of the few companies in the industry to deal with long-term contracts of this nature.”

Keesjan outlines a recent project that has expanded the range of services supplied by the organisation: “As of December this year, we have entered into a three-year contract with Shell UK on the first decommissioning project in the southern North Sea, namely in the Inde field. We cover the first phase in the process, and focus on turning it from being a hot to a cold platform. We prepare the unit so that the heavy-duty barges from Heerema can single lift these platforms. This work can include heavy-lift operations of up to 300tns. This demonstrates that we offer more services than just accommodation, and we can also complete relatively heavy lifting services. We can assist companies with the installation of monopiles, as well as removing the conductors that were put there initially by the drilling unit, as part of the decommissioning phase.

“This contract is important as it is a steppingstone on which we are trying to create a larger work scope for our fleet,” Keesjan states. “This means we are not only dependent on the accommodation market alone, but we are also capable of completing serious construction, installation, well service and decommissioning projects. This is an important development in a more multi-purpose unit, instead of merely accommodation services.”

To meet the demands of the market, Workfox must endeavour to maintain the efficiency of its operating facility, as Keesjan recognises: “There are plenty of opportunities for the company to expand both in the North Sea region as well as other markets. The demand for oil, the high oil prices and the lack of maintenance carried out on existing production requires service units such as jack-ups in order to efficiently undertake the oil companies requirements. Therefore, it is vital to keep the existing facility running at its full potential, so that the costs of new developments are offset against the high oil prices. We are always looking to expand our business, but entering into new markets with this kind of equipment is very capital intensive, and with shipyard and oil rig prices rapidly increasing it is important to judge a market situation extensively before making a move.”

Finally, Keesjan comments on the company’s aims for the future, and how Workfox’s scope may develop beyond North Sea horizons: “Hopefully, the business will expand to the extent that it will become more of a global participant within this niche market of the oil and gas industry. I think we have the necessary expertise to meet this task, and we are always open to developing our abilities in achieving new goals, which can be achieved through possibly collaborating with other offshore companies. As long as we continue to train and employ highly qualified, competent personnel, then we will remain on target to achieve this aim,” he concludes.

Workfox BV

Services Manage accommodation and multi support vessels