HONG Kong-based Pacific Basin Shipping has sold its stake in shipping company PB Towage Australia (PBTA) to marine services company Smit Lamnalco.

PBTA makes up the entirety of Pacific Basin’s harbour towage assets, which include 16 harbour tugs and another tug and barge currently owned by other PB companies.

Pacific Basin chief executive Mats Berglund said his company strategy was to enhance its focus on what it said was its cornerstone dry bulk business.

“We are happy that, through this agreement with Smit Lamnalco, we are making good progress on our strategy while ensuring the PBTA business and its excellent team can continue to operate as a going concern under the ownership of a highly reputable towage group,” he said.

Smit Lamnalco chief executive Daan Koornneef said the acquisition would see it become active in eight ports in Australia with a total of 29 vessels offering harbour towage, terminal and FPSO-related services.

“PBTA and Smit Lamnalco share the same safety, quality and customer-focused values which will ensure a good fit and smooth transition,” he said.

PBTA managing director Tony Cousins said the acquisition was a welcome development for the company’s employees and clients.

“Acknowledging the excellent role Pacific Basin has played in establishing a quality harbour operation over the last seven years, Smit Lamnalco now brings the specialist towage capability and coverage necessary to compete on an international scale,” he said.

Pacific Basin did not put a figure on the deal, which is to be completed in January 2015.

The company had earlier sold its stake in the Offshore Marine Services Alliance (OMSA) to its joint venture partner, labour hire company Skilled, for a total of $12 million.

Skilled acquired the 50 per cent stake from Pacific Basin subsidiary PB Sea-Tow Holdings in November, saying in an announcement that it planned to combine the group with its existing Broadsword Marine operations.

The combined entity would be a single marine services business with broad operational and project capability.

PB Sea-Tow will receive $3.8 million from Skilled on completion, with a second cash payment of $6.9 million payable on 5 January.

Another two $1.3 million payments would be made in April and July 2015.

Skilled managing director Mick McMahon said he was pleased OMSA’s team and expertise were becoming part of Skilled as the Chevron-operated Gorgon project moved into an operational phase.

“Together Broadsword and OMSA have a broad operational base and extensive capabilities, with synergies to be realised from sharing resources,” he said.

“There remains an attractive pipeline of operational and project opportunities in the offshore market, and we believe that the combination of OMSA and Broadsword will position us well to capitalise on these opportunities.”

OMSA is currently carrying out the tugs and barges contract for Gorgon – having been awarded a 12 month contract for the operation of flotel Pacific Installer and its escort anchor handling vessel, the Pacific Blade.

The Pacific Installer is permanently moored within the Barrow Island harbour complex and houses a workforce of 372 personnel for the Gorgon Project.

OMSA chartered the Sea Swan and Sea Surfer platform supply vessels (PSVs) from Norway’s Deep Sea Supply on a nine-month basis to support the vessel, to be based at Barrow Island.

The vessels will carry freight and bulk from Henderson to Barrow Island return.