Posted January 4, 2019
A 300-ton travel lift is waiting to be put in place at the Mediterranean Maritime Hub while a 700-ton one is also due to be installed in the coming weeks.
The lifts, which will run on tracks installed in the dock, will enable the hub at the old Marsa Shipbuilding site to be used to raise supply ships of up to 55 metres out of the water, an essential service for the enterprise’s main target sector: the oil and gas industry.
The lifts can also be used for mega yachts, a sector the hub is actively collaborating with. There are already a number of yachts being handled by different vessel brokers either in the dock or on land, which has now almost all been cleared and cemented.
“The leisure yachting sector is well catered for but the providers involved with larger yachts have more demand than they can cope with and we believe it is important to collaborate, providing them with space but without imposing restrictions on using their own resources,” director Paul Abela said.
It has been a busy two years for the site, which had been closed for almost 18 years.
The roofs were replaced on two of the cavernous sheds, the dock refurbished and the first phase of dredging completed, which improved the 6.5-metre draft to 10.5 metres, bringing it in line with most of the other quays in Grand Harbour.
Concessionaire Ablecare Oilfield Services Group was rebranded as the Mediterranean Maritime Hub (MMH) in 2017 and issued a €15 million bond, €6.5 million of which were meant to finance the dredging. Maintaining the depth of the other quays in Grand Harbour is the responsibility of the government but MMH was the only bidder for the old dockyard site to take responsibility onto its own shoulders.
“The dredging was a real deterrent for the other bidders and I was told I was mad to take it on. It actually cost more than €6.5 million,” Mr Abela said, adding that the award-winning, five-month project had involved complex procedures when some of the silt was found to be contaminated. In the end, it had to be exported to Norway for disposal.
“Increasing the draft makes the quay much more accessible to the oil and gas vessels we cater for. It has meant another step towards the site reaching its true potential,” Mr Abela’s daughter, Angelique Maggi, pointed out.
MMH has been kept busy with logistics contracts for Technip FMC’s project in offshore Libya as well as for Ensco. However, with the oil and gas industry subject to the vagaries of the commodities’ pricing, it pays to have as many services as possible to offer.
Offices have been built in one of the previously near-derelict buildings that will be available to sub-contractors, and workshops inside the sheds are to be used for niche training and services.
Technical support is also being offered to various players, with engineering apprentices being trained there through an agreement with Mcast.
Looking ahead, MMH is planning to extend the dock space available.
The company won the concession in a 2016 call for bids that had attracted the interest of six companies. Of these, only MMH bid for the whole of the 175,000-square-metre ex-shipyard, while the others were for part development.
Source: Times Malta