Offshore Technology Solutions Limited (OTSL) has moved into a former steel mill in Sealots and converted it into their new fabrication facility. OTSL was initially formed in 2005 and took over the assets of Coastal Diving Services with a foreign partner. In 2007 they bought out their foreign partners to be a fully locally owned company. Now they are a multipurpose marine contractor.
Robert J. Stauble, Business Development Director of OTSL says that finding this location is a blessing and work has already begun at the facility for several Petrotrin projects including platform 13, 27 and two monopiles, Mitra and Docina. They are also using the facility as a mobilization point for a project underway in Venezuela. Stauble says that this location is the perfect size to expand into what they want to be eventually and ownership of the facility allows OTSL to set up the facility how they want it and how their clients expect it.
OTSL has 100% local workforce. They often employ people who are within the community in which their operations are. Stauble mentions that in the early days when they operated out of Galeota, many of those employed in the area have moved with the company to Chaguaramas. They also employed people from the Chaguaramas/Carenage area who have moved with them to this location and they now employ people from Sealots as well. They have hired local people from Sealots in the fabrication and manufacturing side of the business and they have also hired a security firm based in Sealots.
Admittedly, there is an initial stigma attached to the area, however Stauble says that they love the area and have had no problems since moving in. Their staff also have not had any issues with working in the area and commuting back and forth in the area.
The need for moving into this facility was triggered by their growth and escalating costs at the other facilities in which they operated. Stauble indicated that they had an administrative office in Chaguaramas in addition to a yard and operations base, all of which were monthly leases. At the time they were also leasing another yard in Chaguaramas from the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA), and leasing dock facilities. Their vessels were being anchored in a bay out in the elements and they had to shuttle men back and forth. OTSL were incurring these costs and their equipment was scattered over several facilities and needed a home of their own.
When all the rents were added up including transport costs, the expense of maintaining crane barges and boats by sea and the availability of docks to enter and to load equipment, it would be impossible to grow. To Stauble, this was a godsend because it now allows them to be their own master and can control all their costs and ensure equipment is not tied up at the docks. At this location there are also docking facilities, which allows for easy refueling and maintenance of their vessels.
We were in the market for a facility for years, says Stauble. This property came into their sights through a colleague who indicated that it was unlikely to resume production as a steel facility and it was out of operation for a number of years. The process began at the end of 2014. Since then OTSL has continued to upgrade the facilities, including the construction of a dock. Stauble also indicated that facilities like these are difficult to come by since there aren’t many places that can be cited for such development due to depth of the water and environmental considerations like mangrove swamps.
According to Antonio Donawa – Director of Subsea Services , there were other locations that were considered along the coast. Their previous location in Chaguaramas became unattractive because of heavy traffic and the difficulty of getting heavy equipment in and out. He notes that it continues to get worse with other new recreational facilities being constructed in the area.
Training is provided to all of OTSL employees including basic safety and offshore training. “We believe that training equals aware people and people that maintain a sense of belonging and involvement”, says Stauble. If you don’t train then you will constantly need to instruct. Donowa says that that they encourage multitasking and cross training and also encourage people to get involved in other components of the business. He mentioned that they once had a driver who was trained up and is now a ROV pilot in their robotics division.
Stauble gives a lot of praise to local bank Republic Bank (who he calls their “partner”) for being one of the few financial institutions that understand the oil and gas business. The bank is the main financier for their property. He also admits that during this economic climate he is at the mercy of the operating companies, he must then run to the bank to facilitate cashflow issues. He admits that they are the busiest they have ever been and operating at about 90% capacity. However by April work will begin to taper off.