Engineering efficiency

West Contractors (Westcon) AS was founded in 1981 as a company performing work for the onshore oil industry. In the beginning of the 1990’s Westcon become the owner’s main company and moved to a yard in Rogaland, Norway, where it remains today. The history of this site stretches back to the early 1960s when it was established as a site handling conversions of small coastal fishing and cargo vessels. In 1983, however, the yard acquired a new floating dock and therefore expanded its services into maintenance of vessels up to 80 metres; a second dock, purchased in 1997, extended this capacity to vessels up to 150 metres. Today the yard handles newbuilding alongside maintenance and conversions, as well as maintenance for offshore oilrigs. In 2011 West Contractors AS changed its name to Westcon Yard AS to mark that its main business is yard activity.

Westcon Yard is one of the largest, busiest shipyards in Norway with four yards across three locations including two floating docks, one dry dock and a dockhall. Ship repair manager Georg Matre talks about the yard’s operations in greater detail: “We have about 2000 people working at the moment, who will work on 130 to 140 vessels a year as well as between four and six rigs. Our yard has the capacity to work on three rigs simultaneously and at the moment we are working on two important projects: jack up rig West Epsilon and the drill rig Scarabeo 8.”

The Scarabeo 8 contract is a milestone as it is the largest project ever tackled by Westcon Yard. Since November 2010, when the Saipem rig was delivered to the firm’s main site in Ølensvåg, Westcon Yard has been responsible for completion and commissioning of the rig. The steel hull was built in Russia and the hull outfitted in Italy but, following a fire in the aft column, the rig was put in Westcon Yard’s hands to repair the fire damage and complete all installation, engineering and commission activities. “Because, when finished, it will be operated in Norway, we fought to get the commissioning contract; along with that came the opportunity to complete the project as well,” comments Georg. “We have about 1500 people working on it today. The challenge is not in what we have to do, as it is similar to many other rigs we have done, but in the size and duration of it. We need proper accommodation and catering facilities for the workers.”

Such an important contract is not awarded lightly, however. Westcon Yard’s reputation for fast turn around times, high quality work and previous partnership with Saipem were all important factors in winning the work. When asking Georg how the yard achieved its reputation, he explains: “It’s because we have very short command lines and very good project people working with a team of expert locals. We also try to work in as un-bureaucratic a manner as possible, something that I think a lot of the big yards don’t strive to achieve. Because we have people invested at every stage of the process, from design to fabrication to installation, when the client hands us a job or problem we can deduce and undertake the most efficient solution possible.”

The Saipem contract has also been an interesting challenge for Westcon Power & Automation, the yard’s recently renamed electrical division. In January 2008, Westcon bought 100 per cent of Vassnes Elektro AS to supplement its own services with electrical engineering and installation; to bring these activities more in line with the rest of the group, it was decided in March 2011 to rename the company Westcon Power & Automation. This division has been responsible for all work on Scarabeo 8’s electrical systems, instrumentation and telecommunications including the laying of over 200 kilometres of new cable and assisting the start up of 12,000 signal sources.

Scarabeo 8 illustrates why the yard has gained a firm reputation for itself and why, despite the wider industry suffering from the global recession, Westcon Yard maintained a steady stream of jobs. Now, with the market looking up, Westcon Yard has emerged with plans to expand its facilities and offer further services. “We are extending the yard with one more rig quay and a new crane able to lift approximately 160 tonnes, meaning we can carry out larger construction and rig loading projects, handle larger steel sections, and install heavier equipment on ships,” Georg says. “These extensions, combined with the electrical company we have now, mean we will be able to offer more complete packages not only in building the vessels but also for delivery of in-house designed equipment on the ships such as control systems, electrical alarms systems, automation systems and other units of our own design.”

He goes on to conclude what this means for the future of Westcon Yard: “We will focus on delivering the complete package, handling not only vessels or rigs but the technology and equipment to go with it. This will increase the value of our services, give clients more complete and effective services with reduced risks and fewer contact points. This is important because labour in this country can be relatively expensive compared to low cost countries so we always aim to have the best value for the customer in turnaround time and scope of supply. We believe we are able to provide an efficient, premium service for advanced or sophisticated jobs so that, even though Norway is a high cost country, I believe Westcon Yard has a service that gives customer value for money.”

Top quality with quick turnaround times
Offers a comprehensive range of services
Family-run business ethic