The Noordhoek group of companies has been operational for 47 years in the diving and ROV industry, both inshore and offshore. Since 2003 the company has added a third core business to its portfolio. The survey department has now been operational for four years and has executed a wide variety of assignments for the oil & gas industry, cables market and civil industry in Europe and the Mediterranean.
Noordhoek (1) operates the DPII Noordhoek Singapore from its Den Helder (Netherlands) base. Over the last twelve months the Survey Department has driven the company’s investment programme. It has two PantherPlus WROVs, complete with dedicated Launch and Recovery and dual Focus-2 ROTV systems, expected to be operational in early April 2007. Noordhoek Survey is very much alive and growing.
Noordhoek was originally a shipping company operating a ferry service in the south-west of the Netherlands. It was the father of Leen Noordhoek, currently managing director of the Noordhoek group of companies, who first began offering diving services to civil contractors involved in the Delta works, on Coastal Protection projects. The company gradually grew, went offshore and expanded activities to include ROV services. Since 2000 it has operated a DPII Offshore support vessel. It is a family-owned business, Leen Noordhoek and his son Cees Noordhoek actively participating in day-to-day management. They adopt an open-door, short lines of communication and swift decision-making policy.
Foot of the Bridge
All activities are co-ordinated from Zierikzee in the Netherlands, at first sight not a very likely location for an offshore contractor. But the majority of Noordhoek staff are local to the province of Zeeland, and given modern technologies and communication facilities it does not really matter where you are as long as the clients can get hold of the relevant staff. According to Cees Noordhoek, commercial director, “Actually, it stimulates us to visit clients and potential clients, which is generally appreciated. Visitors to our office are treated to a fantastic view of the famous Zeeland Bridge and a breath of healthy, fresh air!”
Four years ago the Noordhoek group began offering diving and ROV services, and all combinations thereof. The Survey Department was started in 2003 and included Brian Beard and Peter Boon, both formerly NeSA/Thales GeoSolutions staff. The aim was to offer a ‘NeSA-type’ range of services. Brian and Peter used their extensive survey experience for survey projects, but also sought out opportunities to make optimal use of the synergy between diving, ROV and survey capabilities. In several instances this has proved successful and clients have benefited from the unusual combination of services offered. Cees Noordhoek again, ‘We managed to secure a long term (five-year) contract on the basis of being able to offer these three capabilities. We are happy that the survey capability generated this contract and it has proved that the combination of these skills under one roof is viable’. Says Brian Beard, Survey Manager: ‘We do not expect to become the largest survey company in the world, but are definitely seeking to be the survey contractor of choice. In our approach we put the client’s interests first by taking the communication with the client very seriously.’
Innovation is the keyword. In the past Noordhoek developed a new standard in diving technology when it introduced the TUP (Transfer Under Pressure) diving system. This was designed, engineered and built by Noordhoek and is currently operational onboard the DPII DSV Noordhoek Singapore. It makes diving operations safer and more efficient, combining all advances in safe, closed-bell diving (no surface intervals) with Trimix diving gas. Using this system the diving/bottom time increases significantly compared to conventional surface-supplied air diving methods. Noordhoek is the only diving contractor offering this technology. Likewise, the Noordhoek Survey Department is taking the ROTV technology a step further. The Focus-2 units that will be operational from April 2007 onwards will have some new features that will definitely represent a breakthrough in the approach to route surveys and similar assignments. The ROTV systems will be configured for full geophysical survey, ideal for pipeline-route surveys where an AUV spread similarly configured may be too expensive. What is more, the systems do not require a dedicated vessel; suitably equipped vessels of opportunity can also be utilised for ROTV operations.
Seatec Underwater Systems is part of the Noordhoek group of companies and may be considered to be its engineering division. Seatec are responsible for all the ROV maintenance, servicing and repair, including design and build of any required ROV tooling.
All Noordhoek activities benefit from this in-house capability. The Survey Department has used Seatec over recent years to develop project-specific sensors, including housings and a multitude of brackets and tools. Seatec re-engineered the Launch and Recovery systems for the PantherPlus WROV systems and manufactured and assembled these units. This service is now also offered to third parties.
Noordhoek will work anywhere in the world. Diving and ROV teams are currently operating in the southern North Sea, Sakhalin and Gulf of Mexico. In the past projects have been taken on as far away from the Zierikzee base as Antarctica. It is Leen Noordhoek, however, who has the final say in the decision whether or not Noordhoek gets involved in a project, “We have two criteria. First of all our staff will only be sent to safe areas and, secondly, we will only undertake activities if we are likely to get paid for the services provided”. This has proved a sound basis for international operations. Noordhoek works with staff, partners and suppliers from all over the world. As Leen Noordhoek remarks, “Last December we had people from South Africa, Australia, Poland, UK, the Czech Republic and Holland, all working together on survey data acquired in the North Sea area. It looked like the United Nations of Noordhoek!’
Noordhoek management is looking ahead with confidence. It considers the Noordhoek Survey Department ‘here to stay’ and is looking forward to developing its activities. The company shares the common worry in the market with regard to availability of staff, not only in the survey department but in the offshore industry as a whole. Noordhoek is actively participating in training-initiatives to bring new staff into the industry. It considers this necessary to secure the future of the company.
Email: email@example.com (general inquiries), firstname.lastname@example.org (survey inquiries).