In 2016, after two years of intensive discussions and  information-gathering, EBH Namibia (EBHN), the preferred Namibian ship repairer on the West coast of Africa, won the contract to maintain and repair five tugs being operated from the port of Soyo by the international ship towage, support and emergency response company Svitzer.

The port of Soyo, located on the mouth of the Congo River in the province of Zaire, Angola, is a busy conduit for oil from the local refinery. This major oil-producing region generates in the order of 1.1-million barrels of oil a day.

A part of the international Maersk Group, Svitzer’s tugs serve the company’s primary client in the region, Angola LNG, a joint undertaking between Chevron and Sonogol. Delivered new to Svitzer in 2011, all five 80 ton tugs were due for a special survey and also needed modification to their thrusters.

As there is consistent – and frequently urgent – operational demand for all five tugs, Svitzer released one tug at a time to be attended to by EBHN. The client’s requirement for quick turnaround times was therefore critically important, as having a tug out of service could have meant substantial revenue losses.

“Considering that it is approximately the same distance from Soyo to Walvis Bay, Namibia as it is to the West African shipyards in countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, it is very noteworthy that Svitzer chose EBHN as its preferred maintenance and repair partner,” points out EBHN’s Commercial and Marketing Manager Willie Esterhuyse.

“EBHN was the closest service provider with a respected name and a good reputation,” says Mr. Peter de Raaf, Regional Technical Manager at Svitzer MEA.

He adds that proper management and industry expertise – combined with a well-organised, effectively-equipped facility, competitive and transparent pricing system for repair services as well as their ability to extend their services by sending mobile maintenance teams to the home port of the client – were the deciding factors in the choice of EBHN.

The Svitzer projects also involved the achievement of several ground-breaking ‘firsts’ and records successfully achieved by EBHN. Furthermore, outstanding performance by the EBHN’s propulsion, mechanical, fabrication and rigging teams contributed to the overall success of all the projects in record time.

“The remarkably short turnaround time on all 5 Svitzer projects was the result of absolutely seamless EBHN teamwork,” says Hannes Uys, CEO of EBH Namibia.

“This not only resulted in a satisfied client, but also bears testimony to the efficacy of our company ethos of ‘one team, one goal’ which, put into practice like this, really achieves amazing things!” Uys continues.

A customer satisfaction survey was carried out following completion of the project, and the resulting high score is testimony to EBH’s excellent performance. This standard exercise has been in practice since 2013, and has provided the EBHN team with invaluable information taken from their client’s perspective.

“Customer satisfaction plays an important role in our business, and in many cases is the differentiating factor in securing repeat business,” Uys comments.

“Compared to other docking companies in different locations around the world where we have previously docked, EBHN did very well,” Svitzer’s de Raaf adds.

“In order to combat industry-related challenges, we have had to continuously aspire not only to be a market leader on the West Coast of Africa; but also to consistently lead in terms of recognising the importance of investing and maintaining existing client relationships.

Therefore, from EBHN’s side, we are very pleased that we were able to satisfy the repair and maintenance requirements of a major international company such as Svitzer. With the prospect of the gradually improving oil and gas sector – not to mention world economy – we certainly look forward to being of further service to Svitzer on other similar projects in the future,” Hannes Uys concludes.