Fuelling progress

Shipping provides a smart way to optimise logistical infrastructure, largely because the cost of transportation by cargo ships is substantially lower than by road or rail, and because it’s far less harmful to the environment. Peters Shipyards is making the most of the increasing volume of shipments by building low maintenance and highly usable ships, with a high salvage value.

The Dutch shipyard boasts a long lineage, having existed for more than 110 years since it was formed in the Eastern part of the Netherlands. “It was borne of in-land trade – sailing the big boats out of in-lands to the coast,” reveals managing director Geert van Voorn, elaborating on Peters Shipyards’ history. “In the 1960s and early 1970s, we were a repair facility, conducting one and a half new builds per year.

“This changed in 2000 when we ceased repair work to establish a new building hall, enabling us to build about eight new vessels per year – each weighing between 3000 and 10,000 tonnes. We’ve grown considerably in the past decade, developed a number of new products and expanded. Alongside our building work in Holland, we have a facility in Croatia, where we have been completing vessels for eight years.”

Continuing, Geert discusses a new project that’s proved significant: “We’re launching a unique cargo vessel in August called Momentum Scan, for a client called Canada Feeder Lines. We also refer to the ship as the Sole, partly because it looks a bit flat. It’s 10,000 tonnes, over 116 metres long and has a 17.8 metre long beam. It’s a large vessel for us, we’re a medium sized shipyard and have our limitations because of bridges and lochs; the maximum beam we can produce is 18 metres. The Sole is a one-hold facility that offers enormous cargo and deck space, with two cranes. Despite this, it is quite a compact vessel because it has to trade in harbours that are limited by length.”

It is Peters Shipyards’ work with vessels such as the Sole that sets it apart in the marketplace. Development of the vessel spanned more than three years with the client, which is typical of the shipyard’s style of operating. “We’re unable to develop vessels unless it’s in partnership with ship owners and the market,” comments Geert. “This is what shipbuilding is about; we co-operate closely with shop owners and suppliers. We’re looking for all kinds of partnerships because we’re too small to do everything on our own. We collaborate with shipyards in Holland on an international basis.

“In the last ten years we have developed vessels with good cargo intake, low fuel consumption and low maintenance requirements. We have seen ship owners come back for repeat business and they look forward to seeing our next step. From our point of view, this has got to be about digging out new opportunities in the sense of new fuels, so we’re looking very much into burning gas for propulsion.”

Efficiency and environmental concerns have been at the heart of Peters Shipyards’ activity in recent years. Low fuel consumption vessels are the order of the day, as Geert explains: “One of our greatest concerns, not only due to the rising oil price, is reducing energy expenditure. Upon exploring that specific market, we noticed all these types of vessels before 2000 had an installed power of about 3200 kilowatts. The 20 low fuel vessels that we’ve developed since, even heavy ice class ships, were installed with a maximum of 2000 kilowatts but offer the same performance, speed and cargo intake. In that sense, we’ve made a huge leap forward and to successfully build a number of these types of vessels is quite something.”

The shipyard’s progress is all the more impressive as it has partly taken place against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, though the company’s specific expertise has stood it in good stead. “Everyone has felt the impact and the market has experienced some stress, especially among ship owners,” notes Geert. “Fortunately we don’t build container vessels because that market is down and several German shipyards building those vessels have been hit very hard by the recession.

“We are lucky that we are in the multipurpose market, which is strong, and that we positioned ourselves well in that market to produce medium sized ships up to 14,000 tonne dw vessels. To go bigger than that, we’d have too much competition from the Far East, so we have to play on our own strengths. Our types of vessels are highly desired in the north west European market and we’re doing very well.”

With this in mind, Geert reveals that the future of Peters Shipyards will see the exploration of new designs and general growth: “We’ll develop a number of vessels and move into very specific markets with new propulsion systems, such as gas engines. This is very new and the limited way it has always been done so far is very expensive, so we’ll need to find new ways. We are looking to increase capacity and hope to expand the capacity in Croatia, for example. At the moment, it is suffering due to the recession because there is currently no market for big vessels, so we will extend in that area in the future and seize opportunities to further our efforts.”

Unique cargo vessel nearly complete

Low fuel vessels on the rise

Exploring gas fired ships