Fish and ships

Mainly active in the fishing industry when it was first established in August 1994, Thor has been increasingly active in supplying chase/guard vessels for the offshore industry since 1997 and has gained its expertise through working with some of the world’s biggest seismic companies. Today it has an almost 50/50 ratio within its offshore and fishery sectors, with each supporting the other during economically difficult periods.

“Thor is a limited share company with three shareholders, the two main ones being the founding brothers of Thor, who came into the company with a lot of experience in the fishing industry. The third shareholder comes from major international company Maersk; this combined expertise is one of our core strengths,” says Hans Andrias Joensen, chief executive officer of Thor.

It was in the late 1990s that the Faroe Islands went into a deep economic depression, which caused the shipping industry to be strongly hit by the price of oil. Seeing that it needed diversity to survive, Thor expanded into the offshore industry, using its gillnetter ship as its first guard vessel; when this proved successful the company hired the fishing vessel North Star and utilised it as a guard vessel also. “From that time we have never looked back,” states Hans. “We have gained a good and reliable reputation and, although we may not be the cheapest company on the market for these services, have a proven track record in offering support that meets strict safety, working and reporting conditions to our oil clients.”

Located in Hosvik, on the Faroe Islands, Thor has developed a strong reputation for fast decision-making and flexibility, which is due to its small number of employees and lateral hierarchy. Personnel with both local and international experience and all necessary skills for their role man positions within the company, with Faroese navigators particularly sought after for their skill and seamanship.

Both divisions within the company own fleets that operate on a global scale, from freezer factory trawlers to fresh fish gillnetters and crabbers in Thor Fisheries and guard/chase vessels and supply/support vessels in Thor Offshore. “Two of our support/supply vessels, Thor Alpha and Thor Omega, were purpose built to support new seismic vessels and our guard vessels are used for guarding manifolds and templates on oil fields,” explains Hans. “We also work as ships’ agents here in the Faroe Islands, mainly for seismic and oil companies, but for large fishing firms too. This is a growing sector for us as we have the experience of providing ship’s with agency service as well as receiving them in our world wide activities, so we know what services are required and how best to perform them.”

In November 2012, following 14 years of providing charter services to seismic firm PGS, the company was awarded the largest contract in its history to own and operate a total of eight new seismic support ships on a ten year time charter contract, with the option for an additional extension. The ships were designed by Skipteknisk, based in Alesund, in close collaboration with Thor and will be equipped with state-of-the-art- technology for the efficient servicing of seismic vessels. Each ship will reach lengths of 64 metres long and 14.5 metres wide, thus giving them the capabilities to supply in all ocean conditions.

“An agreement has been made for a total of eight ships (four plus four), which will be built at Besiktas shipyard in Turkey, so that when the first four ships are started they will be delivered in August 2014 and the next batch at three month intervals after. There is also the option of four more ships to be delivered in 2015 and 2016,” highlights Hans. “This is the biggest agreement that Thor has ever made and we are very pleased with the great co-operation we have developed with PGS.”

Looking to the future, Thor will continue to participate in the development of the new builds for PGS while also focusing on achieving a fully functioning HSEQ (Health, Safety, Environmental and Quality) system on its fishing vessels throughout 2013 and 2014. With a mission to be a trustworthy and law-abiding partner that provides a reliable and safe service world wide, Thor’s HSEQ system is built on the values of the ISM Codes, ISO 19001:2008, ISO14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007, as Hans elaborates: “We were the first company in the Faroe Islands to obtain our ISM and ISO 19001 certificate at the same time, which we have since extended. Even though the ISM is not compulsory on vessels under 500 GT, we have chosen to implement the standard on all of our vessels, which means all employees must work according to the procedures and policies stated in the HSEQ manual.”

With the first certification obtained in 1999, the company has honed a working culture that focuses on continuous reviewing/assessing and improvement, which has resulted in a strong reputation and excellent safety record in the marine seismic branch. This ethic will remain with Thor as it looks to expand into the Arctic area, as Hans concludes: “This area is of great interest to us, as we have an experienced crew that have completed fishing projects in Greenland and are therefore familiar with the hidden dangers in these harsh conditions. We are confident that we have the background and expertise to benefit from any opportunities that present themselves in the future.”

Thor
Specialises in support services for the shipping and oil & gas industries
Major contract with PGS to build eight new vessels
Operates 22 vessels