On Friday, the excursion to the van Oord Daimah Yard was scheduled. Van Oord is a Dutch dredging company and one of the largest dredging companies in the world. The four main divisions within the company are dredging, offshore wind, offshore infrastructure and the Netherlands. Van Oord’s Daimah Yard in the UAE is located in the northern state of Ras al-Khaimah near Oman. The Daimah Yard is located in a so-called free zone and therefore separate rules apply for e.g. cargo transfer taxes.
Once we arrived at the Daimah Yard, we were welcomed in the conference hall where we were first given a presentation by van Oord’s Middle East-wide manager. After completing his studies, he joined van Oord in 2000 and has held many different positions since then, he currently holds the role of manager for all of van Oord’s Middle East operations. He told us about the many dredging and land reclamation operations van Oord carries out in this region, but also how van Oord deals with the environmental impact of these operations. With growing attention to marine ecology, more and more efforts are being made to take into account the negative impacts of dredging. For example, when installing offshore wind farms, ultrasonic sounds are played underwater to keep animals away. Van Oord also cooperates in the breeding and transplanting of coral in, for example, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
The second presentation was given by the site manager of the Daimah Yard. He elaborated on the Daimah Yard’s function as a logistics and technical support hub in the Middle East. Its central location in the free zone makes it a suitable location for van Oord to store or maintain boats during periods of inactivity. In addition, having its own port brings with it many other practical advantages such as quick access to vessels and well-controlled security of equipment.
After the presentations, it was time to visit the Stingray. This van Oord barge can lay pipes on the seabed at depths of up to 100 metres. After a look at the helicopter deck, we visited the bridge where everything is operated. A total of 10 anchors allow the barge to pull itself forward at sea and keep it in line with the pipeline. Via the dining hall, we then walked to the workshop where the pipelines are welded. Large tracks with clamps hold and guide the pipe in place. In five different welding stations, pipes of lengths of up to 12 metres can be welded together. When the end of the pipe or maximum depth is reached, a sealed pipe with an eye is welded to the end so the next boat can pick it up and continue the work. Via the lower deck, we then walked past the big crane standing on the deck to lift the pipes and other equipment.
After the tour, there was a brief closing in the conference hall after which we left by bus for the Jumeirah Beach hotel. Here, five van Oord employees were present to tell us more ins and outs about working at van Oord. While enjoying snacks, drinks and a beautiful view, we spent the rest of the evening here reflecting on the excursion.
During this excursion, we gained many interesting insights into the variety of complications involved in dredging and land reclamation work in the Middle East. Not only on a technical level but also on a management level, there are many differences with Europe that a company like van Oord has to take into account while working in this region.