The long view
COO, Jan Lodden, jokes that he has spent a lifetime working at Eidesvik Offshore. After 25 years in the company, it's not far from the truth. Lodden's career represents the long-term perspective Eidesvik applies in all areas of its business.
Having started out as an ordinary seaman on the Eidesvik offshore supply vessel, Viking Queen, in 1988, it wasn't until 2001 that Jan Lodden moved ashore, taking over as COO soon after. That level of experience is hard to find and gives credence to the company's belief that there is no shortcut to success. Lodden is a great example of what Eidesvik stands for – it is a company that applies a long-term approach to development of partnerships, technology and people. The term 'sustainable business' is apt.
Like many Norwegian offshore shipping companies, Eidesvik started as a family fishing operation. Today, it operates a modern fleet of 29 highly specialised vessels in three main segments – supply and logistics, subsea, and seismic survey and cablelaying.
"Business is all about people and relationships, and creating value for all stakeholders" states Lodden, "We go into new partnerships with the idea that they should last forever."
He believes that it is trust that allows business partnerships to prosper over time. "Trust facilitates innovation by encouraging good ideas to be explored in an open environment," he says.
These observations are based on Eidesvik's longterm partnerships with major players in the oil and gas industry such as Statoil and French geoscience company, CGG. In addition, Eidesvik has maintained long relationships with trusted suppliers like KONGSBERG, which first signed a contract with Eidesvik in 1990. Initially, it was for a DP system, but it now includes a variety of KONGSBERG's products across the entire fleet, including service agreements, which Lodden says is vital.
"Good service is so important in offshore work. If you experience a failure during a critical operation, you need to know you can pick up the phone and get help immediately."
Lodden believes Eidesvik has built trust with its customers by being flexible and providing sound technology.
"Our customers appreciate our problem-solving attitude and willingness to accommodate their needs," he states. "A customer also has to know that your technology is reliable – especially in the offshore industry, which places importance on high availability."
The company first went into business with CGG in 1996, and formed a joint venture in 2011,which involved the management of ten high-capacity 3D seismic vessels. The venture is based in Bergen, with 51 per cent owned by Eidesvik and 49 per cent owned by CGG.
"Good service is so important in offshore work. If you experience a failure during a critical operation, you need to know you can pick up the phone and get help immediately"
Jan Lodden, COO, Eidesvik Offshore ASA
Seven Viking is an IMR, Survey and Light Construction vessel. It has a crew capacity of 90. The key focus was placed on ensuring that the crew can deliver peak operational performance from this complex and versatile asset, no matter what task it undertakes. The control room features panoramic windows, giving a full overview of this key activity area. It provides a comfortable working environment and is a comfort class COMF-V (3) vessel. As well as typical IMR, and light construction, its work scope also includes scale treatment and pre-commissioning. This broad range of duties necessitated the inclusion of a complex equipment package. At 106.5 metres long and 24.5 metres wide, the vessel is comparatively compact. This nimbleness, as well as a top speed of 16 knots, allows the Seven Viking to manoeuvre with ease in confined spaces, such as between platforms, accessing difficult to reach areas. But a clever configuration, whereby hull space is maximised and equipment is integrated within the large hanger area, enables it to carry a large crew and all required subsea equipment.
Taking the lead
Statoil, which has held contracts with Eidesvik for more than 30 years, is proof of Lodden's belief that trust aids innovation. Most recently, Statoil awarded Eidesvik with a two-year extension for the LNG fuelled Platform Supply Vessel (PSV) Viking Energy.
The Viking Energy was the first LNG-fuelled PSV in the world when it was delivered in 2003, and has been on contract with Statoil since delivery. Five of Eidesvik's vessels are now powered by LNG.
The Viking Energy features dual fuel engines and can run on both LNG and ordinary marine diesel oil in any proportion. Using LNG results in a 90% reduction in the outlet of NOx (approx. 200t a year) as well as a 20-25 % reduction in CO2. Tests have shown that the vessel has a fuel economy rate of 30% better than that of diesel.
Despite the obvious environmental and economic benefits of LNG, the industry has been cautious, but Lodden believes that the performance of these vessels has proven that LNG is a viable alternative. "We have already seen a few companies follow our lead and I believe in the near future there will be many more," he says.
Lodden believes that over the years, the partnerships Eidesvik has with its customers have strengthened, to the benefit of all parties.
Fresh thinking a must
"In an industry facing a skills shortage, innovation is a must, both on the human and technology side," declares Lodden. The latest example of Eidesvik's innovative spirit is the Seven Viking. Co-owned by Eidesvik and Subsea 7, the inspection, maintenance and repair vessel (IMR) was launched last December. It is now contracted to Statoil and is operating in the North Sea, carrying out IMR work on subsea oil installations, as well as scale treatment and RFO operations.
Statoil provided a rigorous set of contract requirements and together with Subsea 7, and Ulstein, Eidesvik spent two years designing the vessel to deliver on those specifications. Eidesvik drew on the experience of both its onshore and offshore staff in order to develop a vessel that was ideally suited for IMR operations. According to Lodden, the dedicated team from all three parties contributed to the design of the safest, most efficient and most comfortable IMR ship in the industry. He explains that the advance in technology since he last worked offshore in 2001 is astounding.
"Back then there was one big open deck and you were terribly exposed to the weather," he recalls. "Compare that to Seven Viking, which gathers all operational personnel in one area directly above the hangar. This minimises exposure to weather and aids communication and cooperation between personnel, which is a major factor in ensuring safe and efficient operations."
The vast cost of downtime in the oil and gas industry means that reliable equipment is sought-after. Lodden says there are several features on Seven Viking, which make it a highly available working platform.
"A customer has to know that your technology is reliable – especially in the offshore industry"
Jan Lodden, COO, Eidesvik Offshore ASA
"The weather will always be a challenge in this part of the world, but the high-spec nature of the vessel certainly mitigates its effect. As well as being able to perform most operations from the hangar, the dynamic positioning class 2 (DP2) can operate in 5m significant wave height. That means we can perform complex tasks such as operating the crane and launching ROVs without having to wait for calm weather," he explains.
Add to that the ability to carry all the necessary maintenance equipment so that the vessel can operate continuously, and operational downtime is kept to a minimum. "Of course," adds Lodden, "As with all things Eidesvik, long-term planning is key. This vessel has been designed with current and future regulations in mind and will have a lifetime of around 25 to 30 years."
The steady course
Despite the current oversupply in the PSV market, Eidesvik believes it will become more balanced in the medium to long-term. In the meantime, the company is turning its attention to the lucrative subsea market.
But besides shifting its focus from one of its core areas to another, Lodden predicts a fairly steady course for Eidesvik.
"I don't think there will be any drastic changes in our strategy. We have been building this company to the benefit of our employees and stakeholders for a long time and we understand the need to stay patient and keep doing what has worked for us."
In other words, Eidesvik is a company that, if necessary, is willing to go through short-term pain to achieve long-term gain. So far, that philosophy has served it well.
YOUNG CORPORATION OF THE YEAR
In 2012, Eidesvik was awarded the Young Corporation Award by YoungShip, a professional, non-profit organisation for young people working within the global maritime industry. The annual award is given to a company that invests time and money in developing the competence of the young people in its organisation. This may include running development programs and supporting initiatives that promote young people within the maritime community.
The jury was impressed by Eidesvik's policy of keeping at least 10 per cent of its positions open to trainees. It also lauded Eidesvik's conviction that business opportunities emerge from developing and investing in young people. In its judgement, the jury said:
"Eidesvik has clear measurements for the development of its employees, and scholarships for students. From the start of their careers, young employees are given responsibility and opportunities to develop their skills through various assignments and projects. Eidesvik has participated in the Norwegian Shipowners Association´s Maritime trainee programme for several years. The company offers internal trainee programmes, actively recruits candidates from schools, and functions as a breeding ground for young professionals, which other companies benefit considerably from.
"Eidesvik invests in the education of Norwegian seafarers through the Cadet programme. As part of a regional partnership, it provides a job guarantee for youth being trained as maritime personnel, and co-founded the Maritime Academy of Haugesund. In addition, Eidesvik offers its own leadership development programme for young professionals, Eidesvik Young Leaders."
The Young Corporation Award is not the only accolade Eidesvik has received in recent times. It also won the Heyerdahl Award, which was presented by Crown Princess Mette Marit at the opening of Oslo Maritime Week.