Despite a historic 2023, with both a record revenue and earnings, Boskalis is expanding its business not in the Netherlands, but in Abu Dhabi by opening a new office there as ‘an extension to the head office in the Netherlands’. The company mentions this in its annual results. At the same time, CEO Peter Berdowski explains his motivation for the move to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

Right now, about 300 people of twenty nationalities work for Boskalis in Abu Dhabi and the size of the office is expected to double in the coming years.

The company already threatened to leave the Netherlands last year, dissatisfied with regulations, and the Responsible and Sustainable International Business Act (Wet verantwoord en duurzaam internationaal ondernemen) in particular. This law requires companies to prevent their activities from negatively impacting issues such as human rights, labour rights or the environment. Parliament still has to pass this law.

To Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, CEO Peter Berdowski now says that ‘legal certainty is most important for us as a global company. But looking back over the past year, that legal certainty has become even more uncertain for companies in the Netherlands.’

He adds that the Abu Dhabi branch has become necessary now that Dutch politicians want to limit the arrival of foreign knowledge workers. There the company is closer to Asia, ‘with an infinite supply of talent’. ‘In Abu Dhabi we have visas for personnel within a few weeks. In the Netherlands it takes two years, if we succeed at all,’ Berdowski tells De Telegraaf.

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Annual results

In 2023, Boskalis’ revenue increased by twenty per cent to EUR 4.28 billion (2022: EUR 3.58 billion). Net profit increased by nearly 150 per cent to EUR 601 million from EUR 241 million in 2022. The size of the order book amounts to EUR 6.0 billion. With the well-filled order book and favorable market outlook, Boskalis says it is positive about the outlook for 2024.

‘2023 was a particularly successful year for Boskalis, in which we broke many records,’says Berdowski. ‘Net profit rose by almost one hundred and fifty percent to a record high of over EUR 600 million and EBITDA to over one billion euros. It is great to see that all parts of the business contributed to these impressive figures.’

Business segments’ performance

Berdowski adds: ‘At Dredging & Inland Infra, the vessels were very well occupied on large projects in the Middle East, Far East and Europe. We worked hard on the development of innovative infrastructure, such as the Fehmarnbelt tunnel in Denmark and Manila International Airport. We were also busy with various climate adaptation projects, such as the protection of a stretch of coast of Togo and Benin and closer to home, the reinforcement of the Markermeer dike north of Amsterdam.’

‘With our Offshore Energy activities, we once again made a significant contribution to the energy transition,’ Berdowski continues. ‘In 2023, we were involved in the construction of 29 offshore wind farms worldwide, accounting for fifty per cent of our offshore revenue. We completed our first wind project in the United States and were busy with several wind projects in Taiwan and Europe. Our heavy transport vessels were involved in a large number of high-profile transports in 2023. Very recently, we acquired ALP Maritime. With this acquisition, we strengthened our position in the anchor handling tugs (AHTs) market and added eight powerful vessels to our fleet. Finally, our previous additions to the group – Subsea Services and Marine Survey – again contributed strongly to the successful year.’

The CEO then goes into the company’s salvage projects: ‘Salvage once again managed to attract international media attention with the successful removal of 1.1 million barrels of oil from the 48-year-old FSO Safer in the Red Sea off Yemen. We are pleased that this operation was completed in time, before turmoil broke out in the region.’

‘With pride we look back, and with confidence we look forward. We reaped the benefits of our Sustainable Growth strategy and 2024 also seems to promise a fine harvest. The order book is well filled and the market outlook is also good. We will continue on our successful path of creating innovative infrastructure, protecting through climate adaptation and advancing the energy transition,’ concludes Berdowski.

Also read: Boskalis completes FSO Safer salvage operation

Investments in sustainable operations

In 2023, Boskalis has been applying innovative modifications to its existing equipment and has been working on the design of and investment in new fuel-efficient equipment, alternative contract structures and the pioneering working methods the company develops on projects. In October 2023, Boskalis ordered a new state-of-the-art trailing suction hopper dredger from Royal IHC that will be equipped to run on methanol. In addition, over the past year, a number of offshore vessels have been equipped with innovative energy storage systems, reducing fuel consumption as well as CO2 and nitrogen emissions.

In 2023, Boskalis says it made good progress in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions and completed a study on how to measure and monitor its “road to net zero by 2050” progress. The contractor adds that it supports the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) transition path to net-zero 2050 established in July 2023.

As part of this path, there is a medium-term ambition for the maritime sector to reduce carbon intensity. In line with this path, Boskalis aims for a ten per cent reduction in carbon intensity in 2030 compared to 2023. The company intends to achieve this partly through energy efficiency measures and partly through the use of renewable fuels. Using its carbon intensity ratio indicator, the company monitors progress against its ambition and is able to track the energy efficiency of its fleet on a vessel-by-vessel level.

Picture by Boskalis.

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