By Gianfranco Gonzales,
It is my first day at work and I am in an offshore yard where 5,000 people work and two modules (8,000 t and 11,000 t) are to be built. It is almost by chance that my professional career started with oil platforms; however this kind of construction would be part of all my following working years. My experience in Saipem Group began in 1997 for the Aasgard project, in Norway.
Projects go by and so do years, and here I am working as an Operations Manager for the new yard in Karimun-Indonesia.
On the one hand my job is like the one already carried out in Kazakhstan for Kuryk yard, that is starting the yard for productive activities; on the other hand circumstances are very different, hence, a new approach to different strategies will be needed.
Karimun is a small island, a few hours away from Singapore, as well as from Batam, which is a little bit larger than Karimun, densely populated and a base for 72 offshore and ship yards and other electronic industries.
On the contrary, in Karimun, industry has not arrived yet and the main activities for its estimated 110,000 inhabitants are fishing, agriculture and granite caves.
After assessing several sites, the near Batam island included, Saipem decided to build a yard here. The search had been rather long, and in the end Karimun was the only territory that met all requirements. They had been searching for a site in a politically stable country, where there could be an area large enough to build a 130-hectare yard and a 900-metre long quay. As the yard was also conceived for FPSOs and Saipem’s vessels, water depth in front of the quay and access to international routes were two factors affecting Saipem’s final decision on Karimun. Today the community in Karimun feels this big expectation towards Saipem, which represents the first real industrial development opportunity in the island these days.
The objectives that Saipem wants to achieve for the yard are quite challenging.
The construction of this yard goes beyond the needs of the Indonesian local market, for its extension of both open areas and plants and for the type and quantity of equipment used for light and heavy carpentry. Therefore, Karimun is not to be considered as a local yard, but as a yard born to serve any geographical area where Saipem operates. This leads to a constant exchange between our sales department and the colleagues working in the different areas, in order to support the strategies required for several projects all over the world.
Given the extension of the yard, job opportunities are many, from big jackets and decks to the fabrication and integration of modules for FPSOs. It is easy to picture the yard teeming with 5,000 busy working on different projects.
The actual presence of about 2,500 people devoted to the construction of the yard itself, is a fact supporting this reality.
The challenge is not only to develop an industrial activity in a place where it hasn’t arrived yet, but also to do it in the view of a competitiveness that goes beyond the local market; so we have to face methods and costs for yards located in distant areas that are different from ours.
To this day there are no suppliers of goods and services in Karimun, therefore everything has to come or be brought from Singapore or Batam, with a consequent increase in costs. As all suppliers understand the importance of such investment from Saipem, they want to be part of the ongoing business, even though they are well aware of the logistic difficulties still present in Karimun: this is the reason why they are circumspect about opening a new business location.
With regard to local resources – and with the word local we primarily refer to the island’s resources, whose industrial culture is not prominent – Saipem has already worked on several initiatives for internal trainings and collaborations with the schools and universities located in Karimun. However, I have to stress that local resources have shown great professionalism and a strong will to improve along these years of construction, in order to be part of the development of the yard. I am therefore quite confident about this matter.
Once again, Saipem, with its Karimun yard, is not afraid to be a pioneer in developing remarkable industrial initiatives in remote areas, insomuch as other big companies have started considering Karimun as a new base for developing their own activities after Saipem’s arrival on the island.