Yards replacing offshore business with aqua-orders

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Boatyards turning away business, as aqua-orders stream in

“It’s the small and medium-sized new-build yards that are doing the best,” said shipyard director, Jarle Gunnarstein.

His yard, Larsen Mek. Verkstad, has had to turn away business.

That’s the business of building wellboats, factory vessels and fish-farm service vessels for the salmon-farming sector. The boomtime in these has largely spared Norway’s small but capable shipyards from the pain felt by larger yards when their offshore clients endured a persistent downturn with laid-up tonnage.

His orderbooks full, Gunnarstein, writes Norwegian Nett.no, has had to spare some capacity for customers in need of maintenance. “We have said no to many jobs, and instead recommended fleet owners chose yards that have had less to do,” Gunnarstein said.

His company will earn a cool pre-tax profit of EUR 20 million in 2017, a number he said was “good for a yard like this”.

For comparision, the larger Fitjar yard delivered 10 boats in 2016 and eight in 2017. Many of these were larger and not aquaculture, but as 2018 starts up, Fitjar is seeing enough aquaculture business to more than compensate for any lost offshore orders.

“We have invested a lot in new construction, infrastructure and production methods in order to build complete vessels in Norway,” the company has said, adding, “With today’s costs and (a more valuable kroner against key currencies), it’s possible to do that competitively if you look at the whole building process.”

Add to that generous loan guarantees from stately, arm’s length credit agencies, and it’s easy to see how several dozen aquaculture vessels, mostly workboats, were built by smallish yards in Norway last year. Judging by lists SalmonBusiness has seen, that wealth is spread up and down the coast.