Aker Arctic assists customers to Arctic waters

Aker Arctic assists customers to Arctic waters

Text Jorma Leppänen    Photo Susa Junnola

Case

Oil and gas reserves and the growing traffic through the Northeast Passage are increasing interest in the Arctic region’s logistics and offshore industry solutions. With its specialised Arctic know-how, Aker Arctic’s business is growing in close collaboration with customers.

Case

Oil and gas reserves and the growing traffic through the Northeast Passage are increasing interest in the Arctic region’s logistics and offshore industry solutions. With its specialised Arctic know-how, Aker Arctic’s business is growing in close collaboration with customers.

Finnish Industry Investment acquired the majority holding in Aker Arctic Technology Oy (Aker Arctic) from STX Finland Oy in December 2013. The company is a powerhouse of Finnish maritime expertise, and it’s the world’s leading engineering company developing marine logistics and offshore industry solutions for Arctic conditions.

“Our solutions are based on unique know-how that we accumulate by working in tight collaboration with, e.g., research institutes and universities. We have an extremely competent, passionate group of people working here,” says Aker Arctic’s Managing Director Reko-Antti Suojanen.

Creating a market

Aker Arctic’s applications make travelling and working in difficult ice conditions technically and economically possible. In other words, the company is creating a market.

Interest in Arctic logistics and offshore industry solutions is continuously increasing. The main reasons for this are the untapped oil and gas reserves in the North and the increase in Northeast Passage traffic that climate change is expected to bring.

“The international aspect of our business is clear. For example, last year’s biggest project was the design of two Arctic module carriers to be built in China for a Dutch shipping company. For the first four years, these ships will transport modules to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) production plant construction site on the Yamal Peninsula in Russia.”

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We work with our customer to create the entire vessel concept. Different shipyards can use the concept design to build the ships.

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Reko-Antti Suojanen

In addition, the first ice-going LNG carriers have also been developed. These vessels are designed for difficult ice conditions and are twice as wide and long as the world’s largest icebreaker at the moment. Reko-Antti Suojanen started the concept design of these ships already in 2010, when he worked as the R&D Manager.

“We don’t compete for small subprojects for an hourly rate; instead, we work with our customer to create the entire vessel concept. Different shipyards can use the concept design to build the ships.”

“The fact that we have worked with several different shipping companies and shipyards adds to our strengths. Flexibility is very important because the design – from the concept to the building phase – can take several years, during which time the original order can undergo even major changes.”

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Strong investments in offshore

Aker Arctic conducted a record number of ice model tests in its laboratory in 2014.

“We are establishing a way to efficiently produce new services and products for our customers. For example, our ice simulator is also used to train ship crews and as an operative planning tool. The simulator is used to practice cooperative action in difficult conditions – even before the ships have been built.

“We are developing more and more new systems and components that enable the use of other manufacturers’ products in challenging ice conditions. Additionally, we are investing more intensely in the offshore sector in oil and gas production. So, not only do we engineer ships and support vessels, but we also collaborate in projects involving oil drilling platforms and permanent offshore structures.”

Aker Arctic increased its turnover clearly in 2014. According to Suojanen, the outlook is good.

“Russian economic problems and the low price of oil currently reflect on our demand, but applications requiring on ice expertise are always needed. It should be mentioned, for instance, that the US and the Canadian coast guards have traditionally been good customers for us.

“There has been a considerable surge in Antarctic research activities, so there is a demand for our solutions also in the southern hemisphere. In the Nordic countries, the fleet of traditional ice breakers is ageing and therefore in need of an upgrade,” Suojanen says.

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