KUCHING: Sealink International Bhd is looking to build more vessels which have a niche market, according to its chief executive officer/deputy managing director Yong Kiam Sam.
He said the company sold two landing crafts for some RM34mil to an external customer early this year.
Miri-based Sealink, which is a shipbuilder and charterer of offshore support vessels for the oil and gas (O&G) industry, also sold an offshore support vessel to an external client last year.
Yong said the slowdown of the shipbuilding and related activities had affected most shipbuilders in the country, adding that they also had to face competition from rival shipbuilders and ship repairers in Singapore and China.
Besides shipbuilding activities, he said the group would enhance its ship repair activities.
“Continuous efforts will be taken towards optimising capacity utilisation of the group’s vessels which currently number 38 units of various makes and tonnages,” said Yong in the company’s newly issued 2015 annual report.
He said due to an overhang in the supply of offshore supply vessels, charter rates were expected to stagnate or even weaken going forward.
“Notwithstanding the challenges faced in the industry, the group is always on the lookout for strategic alliances with business partners, especially those with niche expertise for better market reach.
Towards this direction, he said Sealink had, via its wholly-owned subsidiary Era Surplus Sdn Bhd, set up a joint venture company with Cakara Maritime Sdn Bhd, a well established shipping agent for the O&G industry in Malaysia. Sealink owns 70% equity interest in JV firm Seasten Sdn Bhd while Cakara the remaining 30%.
Yong said the long term alliance with Cakara was to increase the livelihood of securing long term contracts for the group-owned multipurpose vessel, MV Vanessa 6.
He said the downtrend of the O&G industry due to the drop in crude oil prices had resulted in oil majors either shelving or postponing their capital expenditures (capex).
“Last year was a year of consolidation for the O&G and related business. This year is not expected to bode well for the industry as recovery in oil prices is not anticipated in the short term. Cost control measures remain the top imperatives for oil majors as well as the supporting sectors.
“The top three measures prioritised to impose stricter cost control are tougher decisions on capex, headcount reduction and increasing pressure on the supply chain,” he added.
Yong said as a key measure to manage the group’s exposure to the vagaries of business, Sealink had embarked on several initiatives which would be reinforced and carried forward to the next fiscal year. These measures are:
* Sustainable cost rationalisation and optimisation of human resources where only critical positions are filled when the incumbent leaves the group.
Existing personnel are re-deployed within the group to take on additional responsibilities for better efficiencies without impairing the adequacy of existing internal control system;
* Closer monitoring of inventory management where stringent controls have been deployed to account for procurement of goods and/or services vis-a-vis existing inventory levels to conserve cash flows and minimise the risk of inventory obsolescence which requires impairment provisions, and;
* Maintaining foreign currency accounts with banks to meet payments denominated in foreign currencies, for example, to retire borrowings which are denominated in US dollars, as an auto-hedge against adverse movements in foreign currency exchange.
Yong anticipates 2016 to be another challenging year where charter rates for vessels would likely be flat or weakened, with shipbuilding activities curtailed since crude oil prices are not expected to be northbound from the current levels in the short term.