Asry expansion 'to be completed by next year'
Manama, October 11, 2012
Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard (Asry) said a massive expansion project, which will see the setting up of a quay wall, four new tugs, cranes, new labour accommodation, workshops and a sewerage treatment plant, will be completed by next year.
The new facilities already completed, or being set up are part of a $188 million investment, said company chief executive Chris Potter.
Speaking exclusively to the Gulf Daily News and Akhbar Al Khaleej (our sister publciations) at the shipyard in Hidd, Potter said the massive investment in expansion was aimed at showing the commitment of the company towards modernising itself to meet emerging challenges.
Akhbar Al Khaleej editor-in-chief Anwar Abdulrahman was present at the meeting.
"The ship repair industry is facing a lot of challenges and to meet them, we have strong future plans," said Potter.
"We have been very busy over the last two years after a slow period, but we are looking towards a commanding performance in the coming years," he noted.
Potter pointed out that ship repair business was not as attractive as it was before and hence Asry was looking at diversifying its portfolio.
"We are further developing our marketing set-up and building a new consultancy division - steps that are necessary for us to remain competitive," he stated.
He said in spite of the lull in business over the last few years, Asry had been making profits. "Though we are owned by seven governments, at the end of the day, we are run like any other business and we have to try and make profits," he noted.
He said it is also a fact that Asry has been the most successful of all shipyards in the region, and "is in a stronger position" than others.
"As things stand now, 2012 has been a good year while 2013 promises to be better. And in 2015, the situation is expected to improve considerably."
Potter said though Asry employed people from 17 nationalities, nearly 50 per cent of the workforce was Bahraini. "We also recently set up a programme supported by Tamkeen to train more and more Bahrainis."
According to Potter, the third intake for the programme was set to take place soon.
Asry projects realisation manager Adel Boutari said the company has invested heavily in the protection of environment. "Asry already has a sludge treatment plant and a sewerage treatment facility is being set up."
"We also have a reverse osmosis plant while a desalination plant is on the way, which will make Asry one of the unique players in the ship repair business."
"We have invested heavily in our people, in the way they are looked after and in the way we do business. We are now 35 years old in the business and we are looking forward to a fruitful future," he added.
Meanwhile, Potter said any military action against Iran will have catastrophic effects on the region's ship repair business. "It will be a major disaster and will affect every industry, particularly the ship repair business," he said.
"No ship owner would want to send his vessel to the region for repairs since there would be massive war risk insurance involved. The waterways around the region are critical to the industry and it will be severely affected," he added.
Potter said the first and the second Gulf wars also had a devastating effect. "We then saw very bad days but emerged from those."
He said the years between 2006 and 2008 were the best yet for Asry.
"Then the bubble burst and things became bad. However, things are now looking up and 2011 was a good year and 2012 is expected to be better."
He said times were now tough for shipping and the repair business. "Owners are not spending as much on repairs now as they were a few years ago. In addition to that, there is more competition from other shipyards in the region, particularly from Qatar, the UAE and Oman," he added.-TradeArabia News Service