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Angolan oil tugs help turn around EBH fortunes

Angolan oil tugs help turn around EBH fortunes

Elgin Brown & Hamer (EBH) Namibia, the ship repair company in Walvis Bay that was forced to retrench 102 employees in August 2016, has turned the tide, announcing this week it has secured a major contract to service five tugs for the Angolan oil industry.

EBH had to scale down operations following a collapse of revenues from the slump in ship maintenance in the wake of the falling crude oil price. EBH Namibia is a joint venture between EBH South Africa and the Namibian Ports Authority, Namport.

Late in 2016, the trimmed company successfully concluded negotiations with Svitzer, a Maersk subsidiary for the maintenance and repair of five tugs operating in Soyo, the busy port at the mouth of the Congo river in Angola’s Zaire province through which the oil of Cabinda flows. Oil volumes through this port are in the order of 1.1 million barrels per day.

The five Svitzer 80-ton tugs are contracted to Angola LNG, a joint venture between Chevron and the Angolan oil parastatal, Sonangol. After working for five years, all the tugs were due for a service and modifications to their thrusters.

But since the tugs are in daily use, Angola LNG could not decommission all at the same time. As part of the agreement with EBH Namibia, the tugs are sent to Walvis Bay one at a time.

“Considering that it is approximately the same distance from Soyo to Walvis Bay as to the West African shipyards in Nigeria and Ghana, it is very noteworthy that Svitzer chose EBH as its preferred maintenance and repair partner,” said EBH Commercial and Marketing Manager, Willie Esterhuyse.

The Regional Technical Manager of Svitzer, Peter de Raaf explained their decision to use EBH Namibia, stating “EBH was the closest service provider with a respected name and a good reputation.”

Proper management, proven expertise, a well-equipped facility and transparent pricing, all helped to convince Svitzer of EBH’s reliability.

That this trust is not unfounded was confirmed when EBH’s propulsion, mechanical, fabrication and rigging teams completed the project in record time.

“The remarkably short turnaround time on all five Svitzer projects was the result of absolutely seamless EBH teamwork,” said Hannes Uys, the CEO of EBH Namibia.

“This not only resulted in a satisfied client, but also bears testimony to the efficacy of our company ethos of ‘one team, one goal.’ When put into practice like this, it really achieves amazing things!” Uys added.

A customer satisfaction survey was carried out following completion of the project, and the resulting high score is testimony to EBH’s excellent performance. This standard exercise has been in practice since 2013, and has provided the EBHN team with invaluable information taken from their client’s perspective.

“Customer satisfaction plays an important role in our business, and in many cases is the differentiating factor in securing repeat business,” Uys commented.

“Compared to other docking companies in different locations around the world where we have previously docked, EBHN did very well,” Svitzer’s de Raaf affirmed.

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