An increasing number of producers are contracting wellboats for their own operations. Latest off the mark is the “Hordagut”, which will service five Hordaland producers.
“This is a topic being discussed in the wellboat association. Changes are taking place in the industry,” the chairperson of the wellboat owners’ association Brønnbåteiernes Forening, Bente Lund Jacobsen, told SalmonBusiness.
This is a trend that has been ongoing for quite a while. Nordlaks, Fjordlaks, Alsaker Fjordbruk and Erko Seafood have already contracted wellboats. Additionally, Marine Harvest owns half of the rapidly expanding DESS Aquaculture Shipping.
This week the news broke that Blom Fiskeoppdrett, Kobbevik & Furuholmen Oppdrett, Fremskridt Laks, Fylkesnes Fisk and Engesund Fiskeoppdrett have teamed up to contract the services of the wellboat, “Hordagut”.
SalmonBusiness has canvassed the largest wellboat companies in Norway for their take on developments in the industry, and the toughening up of competition.
“I think I’ll pass on commenting about that,” Odd Einar Sandøy, managing director of Rostein (the country’s second largest wellboat company), told Salmon Business. “Everyone sees what’s happening in the industry, and as far as we are concerned we plan according to what is best for our operation”.
Neither was Sølvtrans’ Managing Director Roger Halsebakk willing to talk about the situation.
“We have no comment to make on that. Our only concern is to run our own business,” he said.
Collective arrangements a positive move
Lund Jacobsen is not totally convinced that any unrest is starting to brew yet amongst wellboat companies, but pointed to that little growth in the marine farming industry, combined with more vessels, could bring things to a head with regard to the market situation for these companies.
“I don’t know whether any of the companies are particularly worried yet. But if you consider the volume of fish being transported, it amounts to a lack of growth in Norway. It’s minimal, so more vessels in the market means more competition amongst the wellboat companies,” she said.
What are your thoughts on producers contracting their own wellboats?
“They are then entering into a competitive situation where the largest companies can keep their wellboats fully operative. It’s certainly a positive move having a joint arrangement, because I don’t think all producers can singly keep a wellboat working fulltime”.
Lund Jacobsen pointed out opportunities are not just restricted to Norwegian waters. Sølvtrans for instance has established itself abroad, with activities in Tasmania (Australia), Chile and Scotland.
“There would be cause for concern if we suddenly had over-capacity on wellboats, but the wellboat industry is firmly at the forefront globally. Opportunities abound elsewhere; not just in Norway,” she said, before adding:
“We’re in an exciting period. People are willing to make changes. What’s important is that we gain a firmer footing in Norway, and that we maintain our global profile”.