Located on the Andaman Sea coast of western Thailand, the Port of Ranong has, in recent years, enjoyed slow but steady growth. The addition of a container crane has been an important feature in the port’s quest to become a more significant port or entry to Thailand.
By using the port, shippers can avoid the long journey around the Malaysian Peninsula and through the sometime perilous Straits of Malacca. However, from Ranong, they are also faced with a 568km truck route to Bangkok the first 100km of which is through mountainous country. The nearest railway access is at Chumphon on the Gulf of Thailand side, which is just over 100km from the port.
A 2006 port expansion saw the addition of a 30- by 150-metre pier capable of mooring ships up to 12,000DWT. The 2007 addition of a mobile container crane made the port a real contender for smaller container ships. One of the most regular class of users continues to be the offshore supply vessels servicing the oil industry in Burmese waters of the Andaman Sea.
A number of oil companies work with the Myanmar Government and contract with supply vessels to support their work. One of the larger of these oil firms is the France-based Total. The company explains in a 2008 paper, entitled “Total in Myanmar A Sustainable Commitment” that much of the resulting production is exported to Thailand: “Yadana gas is piped from the field to the gas grid that supplies the Ratchaburi and Wang Noi power plants in the Bangkok region (total capacity of 6,400MW, with Yadana gas used to generate 2,500MW).
“The gas takes the same onshore route in Myanmar as gas from the Yetagun field, with both delivered at the border to Thai consumer PTT under long-term contracts.”
While the politics of international oil are complex, the people who do the day-to-day work have more immediate concerns. Such is the case for the crew of Seacor’s Marshall Island flagged, Anchor Handling Tug Supply Vessel (AHTS) ‘Seabulk Badamyar’.
‘Seabulk Badamyar’, registered in the Marshal Islands, measures 50 x 13.2 metres. Power: 2 x Wärtsilä 8L20 LF, 2x1,440kW, azimuthing drives and tunnel bow thruster
Captain Abdulgani Omar’s home is in Cebu, Philippines, when he is away from the tug but with 90 days onboard for 45 days off his home for much of the past seven years has been primarily onboard the Seabulk vessels. Over the same period the ‘Seabulk Badamyar’ is proud to have had no lost time incidents. Together with Chief Mate Joko Supriyanto the well laid out wheelhouse of the seven-year-old vessel is maintained in impeccable condition. The array of operations manuals and navigational equipment attest to the well earned reputation for high standards maintained on Seacor vessels worldwide.
Chief Mate Joko Supriyanto
With its 50-metre length and 13.2-metre beam, the ‘Seabulk Badamyar’ is not one of the largest vessels in the US-based Seacor fleet. But a visit to the engine room shows the well thought out design by Singapore’s Shiptech Naval Architects and the quality build by Batam’s PT Nanindah Mutiara Shipyard. A pair of 1,440kW medium speed Wärtsilä 8L 20F diesels turn a pair of azimuthing drives which combined with a 309kW Kawaskai powered bow thruster make for a good handling vessel.
Captain Omar has a choice of a single joystick or individual controls for the two drive units. He prefers the latter when working under an offshore rig.
A striking feature of the wheelhouse is the huge deck to deck head forward windows each of which is over two metres tall and a metre wide. But Captain Omar says that although he has seen green water on them when he encountered 90-knot winds and nine-metre seas he has never had to worry about them giving out.
With a mixed crew of Philippine, Myanmar and Indonesian citizens the US-owned boat, working in Myanmar waters for a French company out of a Thai port well represents the international nature of the modern oil industry.