There’s no place like home for Qatar-based shipowner Nakilat, which is putting some of the world’s biggest LNG carriers into drydock in Ras Laffan
A flurry of surveys is about to take place in Qatar, where Nakilat is drydocking 22 wholly owned plus some jointly owned LNG carriers over the next 24 months – in total a third of its fleet.
Nakilat, whose fleet comprises 63 Q-max, Q-flex and conventional LNG carriers, will put more than half of its managed and operated LNG carrier fleet through special survey in the next 12 months. The confirmed drydockings comprise 10 wholly owned Nakilat ships, due for special survey in the next 12 months. Twelve more are due 12 months after that.
Nakilat has confirmed that it expects all its wholly owned LNG carriers to go into drydock at its joint-venture shiprepair yard, Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine (N-KOM), which is part of the Erhama bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard in Ras Laffan.
Nakilat’s decision to survey the ships at home is not a surprise. Over the last decade, Qatar has invested heavily in home-grown maritime services, including shiprepairs, maintenance and logistics. And this year the government has stepped up its drive to increase local procurement, across all departments, from 30% to 100%.
N-KOM has plenty of yard capacity to tackle the second special surveys. The shipyard has three docks: two graving docks measuring 400 m by 80 m and 360 m by 66 m and one floating dock measuring 405 m by 66 m. It has five 400 m piers and two 400 m quays to repair Q-max, Q-flex and conventional LNG carriers. The three dock cranes can lift 30 tonnes, 50 tonnes and 100 tonnes.
The ships scheduled for drydocking include the 10 whose management has changed hands. In August, Nakilat Shipping Qatar (NSQL) completed the takeover of these 10 LNG carriers from previous manager Shell International Trading & Shipping Company Limited (Shell).
NSQL now manages 14 Nakilat LNG carriers and four LPG carriers. Shell retains management of 15 Nakilat LNG carriers. The remaining vessels will be subsequently handed over in phases to NSQL.
LNG World Shipping asked Nakilat to run through the works scheduled to take place over the next two years.
How many LNG carriers are due to undertake special surveys, and at which yards? What is the timeframe and scope for these special surveys?
The 10 LNG carriers that have transitioned to NSQL management will undertake their second special surveys starting in 2018, up to 2019. All the repairs will be carried out at N-KOM. As per class requirement, the second special survey typically takes up to 22 days, including whatever other repair works are necessary.
How many LNG carriers are due to undergo drydocking, and at which yards?
Next year will be a busy year for Nakilat, as 16 of our wholly and partially owned LNG carriers are expected to be drydocked at N-KOM. Some of these vessels are managed by NSQL and some by Shell. The others are managed by our partners, including Maran Gas Maritime, Mitsui OSK (MOL), NYK Line, Teekay LNG and Pronav.
What is the timeframe and scope for these drydockings?
General repairs will be undertaken for most of the vessels due for drydocking in 2018 at times to be agreed with the charterer.
What are your plans to manage the process?
Each docking is planned to a high degree of detail, by a dedicated team of superintendents and technical personnel. We co-ordinate this with our charterers and with our fleet joint-venture partners to ensure that the operation proceeds smoothly and according to plan.
We have prepared a master schedule for each vessel docking, taking into consideration the resources available, time, budget and critical paths.
What major equipment/software upgrades are you planning, using whose products?
We work closely with OEMs such as MAN Diesel, Cryostar, Kongsberg and Honeywell, to determine any upgrades or redundant components that require change-out. This is a constant process and runs through the entire life of the vessel.
Over the past year, we have upgraded the satellite communication systems on board our operated fleet of vessels. We have installed Global Eagle Entertainment’s EMC marine VSAT services, which includes global Ku-band connectivity and content to enable a range of internet, data and voice services for the vessel and crew.
Are there plans to convert any of the ships into FSRUs?
We are always reviewing business opportunities and there is a lot of interest in the FSRU sector.
How will you maintain fleet service levels and enable the yards to cope?
Nakilat prides itself as the provider of choice, delivering clean energy worldwide. We work closely with our charterers to ensure that our maintenance programme does not disrupt service provision to end users.
Together, we study the docking options, based on shipyard availability and class survey windows and then decide on the optimal period for drydocking. This is often scheduled in such a way that it coincides with the maintenance period for the plant and jetties, to provide minimal disruption to the scheduled deliveries.