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ANALYSISAUSTRALIA


Jumbo Jubilee servicing the Gorgon natural gas project in Australia.


draught and poor general infrastructure such as limited or no lay down area. This in turn may require direct discharge to truck or barge, generating further delays and therefore worsening the issue.


“Not only are the ports congested, but also appointed forwarders are often struggling to serve the specific needs of the heavy lift and breakbulk industry in such conditions.” Mueller pointed to ports like Port Hedland and Dampier in the Pilbara region of Western Australia as the main areas of concern, but added: “With an increasing number of LNG projects on the Australian east coast, Mackay and Gladstone are being affected as well.” He continued: “As a semi-liner operator to these areas, AAL is closely monitoring the berthing situations and is working with the project owners to provide alternative options attempting to minimise waiting time and costs.


“Lift size and other variables like road regulations and stowage on board can shape the options available. These may include calling at alternative berths or even alternative ports with a view to providing cost-effective solutions to the project rather than maximising detention charges by waiting in a berth line-up.


“Here AAL can offer a real alternative as delays coupled with expensive heavy lift vessels can easily lead to a cost blow-out for the project owners.”


Mueller said that AAL is doing so by mixing and matching its port calls and vessel deployments. “For lighter and less bulky cargoes, AAL has been offering options into liner ports


www.heavyliftpfi.com


The cost of domestic transportation is going up. – Berndt Olesen, consultant


covered on a regular basis such as Fremantle, Geraldton on the west coast of the country and Brisbane on the east coast.” He pointed out: “For the larger and heavier cargoes that require a dedicated vessel, AAL is also operating a project heavy lift fleet covering Western Australia and Queensland northern regions as well as the Northern Territory, as per individual requirements.” Another issue that has prompted concern among operators in the heavy lift market is the new coastal voyage licence system. Has this created any difficulties for one-off project lifts?


Olesen said he does not think that the licence system in itself is the problem, rather it is the crewing costs that are the bugbear. “With the federal Labour government


demanding that foreign crews are paid Australian wages whilst doing single coastal voyages, the cost of domestic transportation is going up and it makes it more difficult for Australian shippers and charterers to secure tonnage for coastal business” he said. “Some foreign owners will shy away, as they do not want the hassle with their crews. “Again, this is an example of government action, which is counter-productive. The legislation does absolutely nothing to create Australian jobs, it only increases cost.”


Expectations


On the expectations for heavy lift and project work over the next year or so, Olesen is guarded. “There will still be some project and heavy lift work to be done in Australia,” he said, “but with some projects not materialising and many investors taking a very critical view of the cost of conducting business in Australia, there is a distinct possibility that we have seen or are very close to peak demand. “I believe that Australia’s future is looking


bleak. We have to reduce cost, increase productivity, bring down the high Australian dollar and invest for the future. This includes significant investments in education and infrastructure.” Others, however, are more bullish on prospects, given the huge ongoing need for support to the massive projects currently under way. Ruslan’s Harvey has the final say: “We have identified Australia as an area of projected growth. This is due to the continuous growth of the mining and oil and gas industry.” HLPFI


July/August 2013 101


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