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Feature: Navalroche shipyard eyes the LPG boom

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Portugal’s Navalrocha shipyard is eyeing new work in the LPG product carrier and small-scale LNG markets following a busy first half year. Naval Rocha Commercial Director, Sergio Rodrigues (left) said the yard, located in the heart of Lisbon Harbour on the north bank of the River Tagus, has completed a wide variety of repair and conversion projects so far in 2019.

Contracts at Navalrocha shipyard have involved livestock carriers, polar expedition vessels, car-ferries, tugboats, cargo-carriers, cruise ships and sailing vessels. In line with future growth plans, Navarocha is also reporting growing numbers of LPG and Product Carrier projects.
“As we look ahead, Navalrocha is increasingly well placed to cater to the LPG Product Carrier and small-scale LNG markets,” said Rodrigues. “Our close proximity to major Portuguese ports, including Sines, Leixoes and Aveiro provides a compelling edge. Meanwhile, our competitive rates, fast turnaround times, reliability and growing track record place us in strong stead to capitalise on this expanding market. Earlier this year our long-term client Epic Ship Management booked in for its sixth drydocking in 36-months, with two further projects scheduled for 2019/ 2020. The latest job involving the Epic Croix LPG tanker followed work in 2018 to Epic’s St Vincent LPG carrier. Danish shipping company Ultragas later booked in the Happy Bride LPG carrier.
“The contracts highlight a growing volume of LPG and product carrier work being undertaken at the yard. While the LPG market presents major opportunities for growth, we are further targeting the small-scale LNG market, notably bunker vessels compatible with Dock 1. In order to stimulate greater LNG activity, Naval Rocha is also considering investment in cryogenic workshops as part of broader site expansion plans.”
A flurry of activity
In January and February, a flurry of activity helped kickstart the year. One of the yard’s first projects in 2019 involved the Mira livestock vessel owned by El Amira Maritime Agencies Co. January also saw the continuation of work to the Corinthian polar expedition cruise vessel. The Grand Circle Cruise Lines vessel underwent a 40-day project including wet dock repairs. Additional work was completed on the Transtejo car ferry Lisbonense.
Further commercial contracts involved pier repair work to the Nordanhav self-unloading cargo carrier owned by Citadel Shipping in Sweden and operated by Thunbalogen Ship Management. In February, the yard also welcomed the Poseidon tug to Dock 2. Springtime saw the arrival of the Rolado Mar passenger and Ro-Ro cargo ship owned by Atlantic Ferries. Later in March, Navalrocha secured a 120-day restorative project for the NRP Sagres tall ship and school sailing vessel owned by the Portuguese Navy. Other notable projects in April involved a 10-day drydock for the Castelo de São Jorge tug and Grand Circle Cruise Lines later booked in the Clio cruise ship for its biennial wet dock.
Rounding off the first half of the year, Naval Rocha welcomed Sea Dream II yacht-style cruise ship operated by Sea Dream Yacht Club. The luxury cruiser underwent a fast five-day drydock before the 90m Tejo Belem general cargo vessel visited for a 12-day repair project. Further work in May included a 20-day drydocking for the Anjos dredger involving certificate renewal, steel, piping and mechanical work.
Sights firmly fixed
Looking to the second half of 2019, Rodrigues said the yard’s sights remain firmly fixed on key growth markets, including LPG repair work. “While we currently deliver an average of three major LPG projects each year, there is capacity for much more. As we continue building strong experience in the LPG and Product Carrier market, we aim to further catapult into the LNG and Chemical Carrier markets, which are now being built to smaller dimensions, making an ideal fit for our operation. Meanwhile, ‘out of season’ cruise sector work involving wide scale refurbishments to public areas, such as cabins, restaurants and swimming pools present large opportunities. In addition, a growing portfolio of livestock carrier work puts us in poll position to capitalise on the fast expanding domestic market.
“Navalrocha offers a series of unique benefits,” explains Rodrigues. “Firstly, our strategic location in the sheltered Tagus Bay provides ideal ship repair and conversion conditions with more than 300 days of sunshine every year. Being in the heart of Lisbon, we have vibrant and cosmopolitan surroundings for crew to disembark. In addition, we can offer a faster and more cost-effective solution to many ship companies looking to avoid the congested Strait of Gibraltar or Mediterranean. Meanwhile, we’re able to avoid issues regarding the ready supply of spare parts affecting other island-based shipyards. We also believe our location is particularly attractive to ships operating in West Africa, anywhere northwards of the Gulf of Guinea, as these vessels have to travel north to drydock.
“The scale of our operation also places us at an operational advantage with three dedicated drydocks. This ensures every project receives our full attention with each client benefitting from priority treatment from our 70-strong team and cluster of sub-contractors based on site.”

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