In April, the Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, Chairman of Damen Shipyards Group Kommer Damen and Porto Montenegro CEO David Margason, came together to visit Bijela shipyard in Boka Bay, marking the official start of the shipyard’s regeneration into a superyacht repair and refit facility for yachts between 25-125m in length.
Under the Consortium of Damen Shipyards Group and Porto Montenegro, the shipyard will be redeveloped as a service facility for superyachts, with operations expected to commence in 2020. The project follows a signed Concession Agreement between Damen, Porto Montenegro and the Montenegrin Government that grants commercial use of the 198,294 m2 plot of land for a 30-year period. The venture will benefit from a proposed investment of over 20-million euros during the first three years of operation.
Prime Minister Markovic meets leaders of Damen Shipyards and Porto Montenegro at Bijela
With the redevelopment planned in phases, initial activity has begun with a complete site clean-up. The contractual pre-condition for operations is to have French company Valgo, engaged by the Government of Montenegro, complete the ecological remediation of the area by March 2020, with the removal of approximately 150,000 tons of grit and contaminated soil from the plot. The development of the buildings will then take place, as well as the implementation of a new infrastructure, new machinery and a completely new work force.
During the first operational year, the plan is to have 14 superyachts repaired, increasing to 109 repairs in the fifth year. Starting with 35 workers in the first operational year, the facility will grow to 300 to 400 workers in the fifth year of operations. With the management team to be made up of existing Damen employees, the majority of the work force will be recruited from the local area. “Tivat has history as a dominant shipbuilding area so we need to find its roots and develop it back again,” comments Eel Kant, business development at Damen Shipyards. The local employees will first be given training at Damen and, once the facility is up and running, an apprenticeship scheme will be set up.
During the first phase, the shipyard is also set to take delivery of a new modular floating dock, designed and built by Damen. At 75m long and 26m wide, and with a lifting capacity of 3000 tonnes, the dry dock is key to the provision of Damen’s standard of repair and refit work. During the second phase – if there is there is considered to be a market for it – the dry dock will be lengthened to 125m, increasing the lifting capacity to approximately 8000 tonnes.
Prime Minister Markovic
If all continues as planned, Bijela shipyard should become a credible and competitive alternative to the existing reputable service centres and yacht refit shipyards in the western Med. “In order to succeed, we need to be competitive in at least one of the key criteria when choosing a refit yard: price, technical quality or time scale,” adds Kant. “The refit market is growing and there is too much pressure on existing facilities. We already have the existing market of boats here in Porto Montenegro, which will all need maintenance at some point.”
The new facility promises to be a good opportunity for both investors. While Damen already has a reputable refit facility in northern Europe, it has historically lost out on smaller projects from clients wishing to remain and conduct works in the Med. Similarly, Porto Montenegro has lost out on clients staying in the marina year-round due to their need for refit and repair work. Despite a hefty initial investment, both parties should benefit greatly in the long-term from a refit facility in the area.
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