By Andrew Hobbs
BHAGWAN Marine’s subsea services division has given company vessels a new lease on life at a busy time for the industry.
Bhagwan operations manager subsea Paul Masters told Oil & Gas Australia that while oil prices had fallen and construction rates were lower, there was still a lot of work out there for subsea support groups.
“There has never been a time in our history when there have been more assets in the water… there is more gear in the water now to inspect, repair and maintain than there has ever been,” he said.
Bhagwan said the business had good potential as the industry had put a new focus on inspections of offshore infrastructure, coupled with likely higher levels of decommissioning in the future.
In making the decision to tap into this market, Bhagwan Marine subsea technical manager Jamie Watson had spearheaded the group’s establishment of its onshore systems – with seven put together in total.
The systems were set up across the company’s bases in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, enabling the company to carry out subsea work at a variety of locations around the nation.
“We have pooled globally what we have all learned over the years and taken into account getting stuff from here to our area of work – say Karratha or up to Darwin, how we can put it on a truck and save on mobilisation costs,” Mr Watson said.
These dive suites could be used on most of Bhagwan’s 150-strong fleet, Mr Masters said.
“We have got vessels at Gladstone and Darwin and Dampier that have all been reconfigured for dive support vessels – previously they were not being utilised to their capacity and now we have got them working every day,” he said.
Bhagwan had built dive systems onto four dive support vessels, but the portable kits offered the group versatility, able to be used on almost any vessel to meet client requirements as well as avoiding any potential constraints on the vessels.
“One of the things that we try and avoid is pulling gear apart and re-assembling it all the time, but essentially it is all modular for a reason and it happens from time to time,” he added.
Bhagwan planned to take its focus on inspection, repair and maintenance and on non-destructive testing to any number of projects – be they traditional offshore projects or ones in rivers, harbours, lakes or dams, Mr Masters said.
“Underwater labouring is essentially what diving is, and diving is the means to the task. It is just the technique to get the person to the job, and once you get the person to the job, it can be anything.”
Ultimately, the company aimed to be able to work with top end saturation diving vessels, in what could be defined as the sector’s middle tier, Mr Watson said.
“We can slide in underneath them and either work with them, or do the lower end of the stuff, or go back and have a look at what they have done with short term jobs,” he said.
“We can really cover from the $2,000 job through to the top end.”
The establishment of Bhagwan’s subsea division, based out of the company’s offices and laydown facility in the Perth suburb of Belmont, was a major decision for Bhagwan Marine managing director Loui Kannikoski earlier this year.
“This has been a huge decision for us, but one that we believe will set us apart from our competitors and provide huge benefits to our clients in the form of efficiencies and savings,” he said at the time.
For Mr Watson and Mr Masters, it was important that this new company meet the newest of standards, which meant having the dive systems built by professional fabricators as they are in the North Sea.
It was a standard that Mr Kannikoski endorsed, Mr Masters said.
“He said if we are going to do it, we are going to do it properly. If you had your pick, if you could pick the best gear that you wanted, what would you go and get?”
Mr Masters said the systems had been built to American Bureau of Shipping standards – with every last component certifiable and traceable.
They were also compliant with the International Marine Contractors’ Association, the world’s leading authority on issuing guidance for diving contractors.
Mr Watson said the company had developed a long range plan for the systems, which he said the group could be using 20 years from now.
“If we had built our own diving systems like we used to, we would not get on one bid list, because the operators now don’t want to see that,” he said.
“If you’re a new player in this market you have really got to come in with top end equipment, and unfortunately you can’t kick off a company with that sort of investment unless you have got somebody to look after you.”
The support from Bhagwan management allowed the group to request customisations to the systems built for the company.
“We have spent a lot of time customising it to the way we think is the best way to operate within our market… with the divers and what they want to use in the field, how best to mobilise it quickly and get stuff done for them,” he said.
The resulting system was well suited to the task at hand while being easy to use, diver Shane Edwards told Oil & Gas Australia.
“Even the video capture system – doing an as built or a survey on something, it is set up so it is easy to put stuff on it,” he said.
“What the client gets is a report, video and photos – we also have cameras and lights mounted in the helmets, so the supervisor can see exactly what is going on.”