Australian expansion for Kotug

The official contract signing for the Port Hedland contract (Kotug) The official contract signing for the Port Hedland contract (Kotug)
Industry Database

Existing requirements along with potential expansion at the world’s largest bulk export facility in Australia has led to the award for Kotug’s Australian subsidiary of a contract to operate nine powerful tugs at the port.

A common feature nowadays with ‘specialist’ port operations such as LNG terminals, offshore FPSO installations and as here, bulk cargo handling facilities is where established towage service providers are engaged to provide a bespoke towage service tailored specifically for the often-unique requirements of the operation. Such provision can extend beyond just berthing and unberthing, requiring a multipurpose element with for example, emergency response capabilities included in the contract requirement.

The contract has been awarded to Kotug Australia Pty Ltd by Fortescue Metals Group to operate a fleet of tugs at Port Hedland on Australia’s west coast. The tugs involved are a mix of vessels comprising six Fortescue-owned ART 85-32W Rotortugs and three Kotug-owned tugs which will be chartered directly to Fortescue. In May 2016, Fortescue Metals was awarded a second towage license for Port Hedland and the new Rotortugs will enable them to offer long-term, efficient, sustainable towage services. Westug Pty Ltd has been appointed by Kotug to manage the local Pilbara region operations.

Perth-based Westug is an Australian port operations provider delivering specialist marine services to a variety of industries with operational bases throughout Australia including at Pilbara, Whyalla and Melbourne. The operating model of the contract provides Westug with delegated authority from Kotug to manage operations of the tug fleet and crews to the satisfaction of Pilbara Marine. Kotug state this unique set up ‘will leverage from the highest health, safety, environmental and quality standards, operational performance, and world-renowned training to provide greater flexibility, cost efficiency and exceptional delivery for Fortescue and Port Hedland.’

Speaking to MJ, Kotug state the six Rotortugs allocated to service the Fortescue Metals contract are being built specifically for the contract. The names of the new vessels are yet to be allocated and it is hoped to return to these important additions to the Rotortug family compliment once delivered and in service.

Highlighting the advantages of local knowledge with such ventures and the potential for opening doors in the future, Ard-Jan Kooren, CEO at Kotug states: "Kotug believes that this unique combination of local Australian knowledge and worldwide operational experience is not only vital to providing a reliable, safe and long-term solution to Fortescue’s and Port Hedland’s terminal service vessel requirements, but will be a resource to Fortescue’s terminals, in any marine endeavor that it chooses to embark on in the future."

Kotug has a significant fleet presence in the Australia region which includes 16 infield support vessels, 15 of which are Rotortug designs serving: BHP, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Shell and Conoco-Phillips.

By Peter Barker

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