Fleet of the moment

Operating as the engineering division of Topaz Energy and Marine, Topaz Engineering provides a range of services from fabrication and construction to marine repair, shipbuilding and maintenance. Based in the UAE, the company is a Middle East market leader with over 35 years’ experience in serving both national and international companies in the oil and gas, shipping, industrial and associated sectors. With activities that also cover Oman, Qatar, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, the division today employs more than 4000 personnel. Topaz Ship Building is a part of the Engineering division and operates from two facilities – Adyard Abu Dhabi, located in the country’s capital, and Nico Craft, situated in the Emirate of Fujairah.

Jamie Cartwright, commercial manager of Topaz Ship Building elaborates on the company’s two sites: “Our Fujairah yard consists of a shipbuilding facility where we specialise in constructing aluminium craft of up to 42 metres in length and with a maximum beam of 12.5 metres. This consists mostly of Catamarans and high-speed mono hulls for patrol boats and crew boats. We also benefit from a 200-tonne travelift at this facility that we use to lower the boats in and out of the water. Furthermore, we are able to take advantage of the support of the Fujairah port facility, which has a large anchorage area.

“In Abu Dhabi, our activities focus around the construction of steel vessels, and from this 66,000 square metre facility we are able to manufacture all types of barges, anchor handling tugs (AHT) and platform supply vessels (PSV). Whilst the majority of the vessels produced here are used in the oil and gas sector, we are able to provide a complete gambit of commercial vessels for applications both here in the Gulf and in the Caspian Sea.”

Topaz Engineering works with many key companies in the oil and gas industry, and its clients include the likes of BP and RAK Petroleum, amongst others. The company also has a number of ongoing contracts with other customers in the region, as Jamie highlights: “We are completing a five-vessel order for Caspian Marine Services in Azerbaijan. This consisted of five 35-metre steel crew boats with an aluminium superstructures we are also concluding the construction of three 70-metre barges for BUE and in addition, we have completed 10 other vessels in 2009 including a 23-metre and a 17-metre crew boat for Miclyn Express Offshore Transport to be used in the MENA (Middle East and Northern Africa) region. Furthermore, we have signed a contract to provide a 24-metre wave-piercing catamaran for RAK Petroleum which will be in service early next year.”

With so many projects underway, it is evident that Topaz Engineering has fared well in recent times, despite the global recession. Jamie discusses how the downturn affected his industry, and reveals how his company survived: “Previous to the crisis, there was a large need for vessels in this region. A lot of companies were taking advantage of this and many were establishing shipyards across the Middle East and Far East. When the world economy suffered, so did these newer companies, and many were forced to shut down their operations.

“We were lucky in that we had secured enough contracts to remain financially strong, and so we could continue to build ships despite the downturn. The market is certainly picking up again and there has been a lot of progress in the industry since. Wells are being drilled and there is still a need for vessels. Companies that are looking to cut costs can see our vessels as a cheaper alternative to using helicopters to take their crew out to the oil platforms, for instance. As the more businesses realise they can make savings through expanding their fleets with newer more technologically advanced vessels, which will enable them to recover from the downturn faster. This, in turn, has helped us further develop our products, whilst continuing to think outside the box.”

This philosophy of innovation is integral to the success of Topaz Engineering, and Jamie cites it as one of the company’s key strengths today. He continues: “We are always looking at new ways of fixing problems that these companies may not even know they had. By taking this attitude, we have enabled ourselves to develop and become the premier aluminium shipbuilding company in the region. We also work with a lot of key partners in the shipbuilding industry and it is through working alongside these expert designers that we are able to provide tried-and-tested products to the market.”

One such example is a 24-metre vessel that will be constructed in Fujairah facility. Jamie highlights: “This boat features a Wave Piecing Catamaran designed by Incat Crowther in Australia, this high speed craft is propelled by water jets, which is virtually unheard of in this part of the world. No one else is building commercial boats with jets, and there is a certain tendency for companies here to remain behind the times due to a lack of trust in new technology. We want to change this, by working together with both our customers and partners to really make progress in this industry.”

In its bid to shape the future of the industry in the region, Topaz Engineering looks set to benefit from a prosperous future. Jamie concludes: “We currently have a strategic five-year plan that we are working to, and we are already exceeding the targets that we have set ourselves. A lot will depend on the way the market changes and develops, and so we will revise our plans according to the way the business is shaping up. Our vision for the future is bold and we really want to push the boundaries for the region. By continuing along this path, we expect that our position in the industry will continue to grow.”

Completing a five-vessel contract with Caspian Marine Services

Recently secured a contract with RAK Petroleum

Provided two vessels for Express Offshore Transport