Award winning expertise

With a history dating back to the 1840s, Houlder boasts more than 150 years of experience within the marine and ship building industry. Today, Houlder Limited delivers design, analysis, engineering, innovation and project management to customers across the maritime sector, with a particular focus on oil and gas, renewable energy, marine and gas vessels. Core clients for the company include oil and gas majors, offshore vessel owners and operators, drilling contractors, pipe and cable layers, subsea inspectors, maintainers and repairers; an impressive range that includes blue chip organisations such as BP Exploration, Shell Trading and Technip over recent years.

Working across the UK, the USA and further afield, Houlder supports its clients through each stage of a project’s lifecycle, from initial concept through to commissioning and operation. Key to the company’s success in serving customers is its ability to fully understand requirements through developing trusted partnerships and delivering reliable technical support as well as innovative solutions. By combining forces and working together with clients, Houlder’s engineers, naval architects, designers and project managers can bring clarity to challenges within the industry and offer solutions. Due to this co-operative way of working, Houlder is committed to recruiting only the brightest and best in the industry.

Since previously featuring in Energy, Oil & Gas magazine in April 2014, Houlder has witnessedstrong growth despite the low oil price and enjoyed recognition for its business development strategy, as Rupert Hare, CEO of Houlder Ltd discusses: “Houlder now has a headcount of approximately 200 including engineers, designers, draughtspeople, construction supervisors, site QHSE teams and project managers. All are experienced in managing the build, upgrade, conversion and repair of floating assets including offshore support vessels, pipe and cable layers, semisubmersibles, jack-ups, FSOs and FPSOs.

Houlder Issue 123b

“Since last featuring, Houlder’s business development strategy has been rewarded with a top five place in the Sunday Times International Fast Track 200 list. The Track 200 list, published July 12 2015, ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales. This national media coverage recognises a two-year average 187 per cent increase in overseas sales.”

An integral part of the company’s growth is the establishment of its subsidiary HoulderAmericas Inc. in Houston, Texas in 2013. Launched to support clients headquartered in the US, this expansion also signifies thecompany’s position as a global operator and reliable provider of services to the world’s leading offshore operators. “Houlder Americas has the task of building on a very positive award winning start,” says Rupert. “Although a lot of Houlder’s Oil & Gas work still centres on supporting floating assets for North Sea drilling contractors, our recent experience is a broader range of clients that value this hard-won expertise. We have had enquiries from the Middle East, the Baltic, Asia and the Americas lately. We are now in a stronger position to respond due to our increased capacity and capabilities, including a growing team in Houston.”

One recent project for Houlder was delivered in 2015, when Saipem’s field development, 100 kilometres off the coast of Azerbaijan, required equipment to support the installation of eight steel jacket foundations for two new platforms, as Rupert notes: “The Saipem project is a great example of our turnkey approach at work. The project involved innovative designs for a challenging set of operational constraints, fabrication within a tight window and installation at the quayside, in this case, a long way from home. Saipem deployed Houlder’s innovative pile installation equipment on the deck of the heavy lift ship Derrick Barge Azerbaijan (DBA) tasked with the jacket installation. It horizontally restrained and adjusted the inclination of 140 metres, 525 tonne steel foundation monopiles – keeping them vertical as they were driven in 95 metres of water. This requires the frame to deliver operational horizontal force resistance of 75 tonnes in any direction within a four metre diameter operating envelope. Houlder delivered the contract under a typical turnkey arrangement – being accountable for the design from initial concept through to fabrication. The 80 tonne frame was supplied ex-works and packed ready for transport. Houlder then sent a team of engineers to manage the installation in Baku.”

Houlder Issue 123aIn addition to growth in the US, Houlder has also increased its UK headcount (in London, Tyneside, Aberdeen and Portsmouth offices) significantly. The Tyneside office, in particular, is becoming an increasingly vital part of the North East marine supply chain due to key equipment and offshore engineering projects. One reason for this increase in demand is the company winning the 2014 Innovation and Technology award at the South Tyneside Business awards. The black tie event celebrated the ingenious approach of Houlder’s engineering and design team in Boldon and their ability to deliver enhancements to maritime assets and offshore operations through innovative thinking. “Houlder is very conscious that innovation begins at home so we were delighted to win the award,” says Rupert.

The company will be showcasing its handling equipment expertise in particular at this years’Offshore Europe exhibition, 8-11 September, Aberdeen. Houlder is delighted to be teaming up with National Instruments and ISC Ltd at the event to share its track record of utilising advanced control systems in marine applications. The joint stand (3E180) presents the perfect opportunity for operators and developers to understand how large, complex hydraulic pieces of deck equipment can be operated with pinpoint control.

As Houlder continues to make innovations in pile handling and other areas such as deep water jacking, launch and recovery and subsea deployment, the future is looking positive thanks to the company’s diversified services, independence and flexibility, as Rupert concludes: “Independence and employeeownership mean we are nimble enough to respond to new opportunities – be they new markets, products or geographical regions. Over the coming years we will continue working towards doubling our capacity and capability. We are hitting commercial, financial and business milestones, which is gratifying. Houlder Americas has the task of building on a great start. Elsewhere, we have the task of converting a higher profile and greater interest into more business. It’s a challenge we’re thoroughly enjoying.”

Houlder Limited

Services: Engineering, design, analysis and marine equipment

Issue 125 October 2015