I’ve been employed in dredging for two decades.
Things have changed a lot since 1988.
This is how I’ve seen it change all:
In the last two decades dredging became a global business, and is still in full expansion.
Around 1980, there existed some twenty smaller dredging companies in
Through a process of consolidation and acquisition, they melted in the four mayors of today: “DEME“ and “Jan De Nul” from
Within “Van Oord” en “Boskalis” can still be found the remains of many Dutch dredging companies from yesteryear: HAM, Ballast-Nedam, Blankevoort, Zanen-Verstoep, Volker-Stevin, etc…
The only exception here is the Belgian company Jan De Nul, who never joined forces with other companies, but achieved growth from within.
At the sideline are some smaller Asian players; Hyundai from
They are hardly a threat in the global market, and they are definitely not in the game as main contractors for the large or complex dredging jobs in the
CSD Leonardo Da Vinci and TSHD Gerardus Mercator during joint operations in Vostochny, Russian Federation
Dredging in the
This has led to a complete lack of dynamism in the closed
THE GLOBAL MARKET
Right now, the
The number of ongoing projects, and the sheer magnitude of the projects in the Gulf is stunning; never seen before in the dredging industry.
Other countries are reaching for second or first-world-status, with the need to improve infrastructure, watermanagement, exploitation of natural resources, etc…
This often involves large dredging projects; it’s a booming market.
TSHD "Tong Tan", bought by a mainland China dredging company. Buy one, copy more.
The “Maasvlakte II” project is an example, together with major projects in Valencia, Marseille, London, etc...
MEGA SHIPS HANDLING MEGA PROJECTS
The shipyard of choice for dredging equipment has always been the Dutch IHC-group. In a niche market, they are unchallenged world leader.
They are surrounded by a cluster of specialized suppliers to the dredging industry: Bakker-Sliedrecht, Van der Graaff, Damen, De Groot-Nijkerk, etc…
Jan De Nul has ventured outside this box by acquiring sufficient in-house dredging technology, designing dredgers themselves, and building dredgers on “ordinary” shipyards in
Dredging has been a cyclic business from the sixties to the eighties, with ups and downs along the road.
Belgian and Dutch dredgers were occupied in their own low-lying countries by the sea, deepening and maintaining the access to their ports.
At the end of the eighties, activity increased in the Far East, especially in the British crown colony Hong Kong, with large infrastructural projects, container-terminals, land-winning for real estate development, and the so-called “contract of the century”: the platform for the new Chep Lap Kok airport, a first + 200 million cubic meters project.
Dredging activity was triggered with the finding of easily accesible marine sand deposits.
Hong Kong kept the entire world top-20 of dredgers occupied for several years.
Dredging was seen as a cheap way to create valuable land.
The largest hopperdredgers of that era had a capacity of around 10.000 m3.
But dredging activity ebbed away, when Hong Kong was transferred to communist
Starting from 1997 the world dredging fleet gathered in the island state, making a new airport (Changi), making new land for the Singaporean industry (Jurong, Tuas), container-terminals (Pasir Panjang, …), real estate (Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin, …), and even the beach at Sentosa.
The sky was the limit once more, with the Tuas project topping the scales at + 700 million m3.
Dredging companies reacted to the demand by developing a new size of hopper-dredgers, the so called “jumbo’s” with capacities around 24.000 m3, ships mainly built for sand-winning.
Singapore has few sand deposits within their boundaries, and these are used to finish priority projects today.
Various solutions to the shortage of sand have been tried; bringing in sand from Vietnam (with refitted bulkcarriers), mixing clay and cement, to use as fill, etc...
The Singapore blackout left the dredging companies with a fleet of giant ships, and no big projects at hand.
But within one year, the
Almost the entire world dredging fleet scrambled to the Persian Gulf, and took on projects in the oil-rich
And things are still heating up.
Thus, global dredging business has always thrived on one center of gravity only: Hong Kong and
There may have been large projects in other countries, but these were always singular affairs.
During the Hong Kong and
Handling large projects alone reflects the growth of dredging companies, since the ninieties.
The demand in the Gulf has given rise to the birth of “mega” dredgers.
By 2009, two ships with a hopper capacity of 46.000 m3 will follow, for the Belgian company Jan De Nul. DEME plans two ships of 33.000 m3, and Van Oord has plans in the + 40.000 m3 range.
In dredging; ships with specialized capabilities have always created their own market.
CSD JFJ De Nul, with special features for seagoing jobs
The sheer volume of work today, the booming demand in the dredging market, the ongoing newbuilding of larger, ever more efficient dredgers and the opening of new markets give a healthy perspective to the dredging industry for the next decade.
Consolidation and mergers have giving dredging companies global clout.
Marc Van de Velde