The history

Swiber harboured big dreams of being global player

Even as Swiber reported a net loss of US$27.4 million last year, its first loss since its founding in 1996, its executive chairman Raymond Kim Goh (above) sounded an optimistic note, saying that despite poor market conditions, the firm continued to s
Even as Swiber reported a net loss of US$27.4 million last year, its first loss since its founding in 1996, its executive chairman Raymond Kim Goh (above) sounded an optimistic note, saying that despite poor market conditions, the firm continued to see growth, particularly in Latin America and South Asia.

Swiber executive chairman Raymond Kim Goh founded the company in 1996 as a marine services firm.

Just a year later, the Asian financial crisis hit but Swiber rode through the storm and came out even stronger, mainly due to a major contract that was denominated in United States dollars.

As the Singapore dollar weakened during the period, Swiber's costs came down while its profits soared, thanks to the foreign exchange translation.

The company grew from strength to strength and, in 2006, was listed on the mainboard.

At the time, Mr Goh saw the firm's future in providing offshore engineering and laying offshore pipelines for oil majors.

By 2012, chief executive Francis Wong was telling The Business Times that the company had even bigger dreams, such as partnering major energy companies to develop and manage an oilfield instead of just providing services to help build it.

And rather than just being a regional player, Mr Wong said Swiber wanted to go global.

In its last annual report, for last year, the firm noted it had a presence in Europe, Latin America, West Africa and the Asia-Pacific.

By that point, it had become an integrated offshore construction and support services provider for shallow water oil and gas field development. Its services included project management and engineering, transporting and installing fixed offshore platforms and subsea pipelines, and subsea completion works.

Even as Swiber reported a net loss of US$27.4 million (S$37 million) last year, its first loss since being founded, Mr Goh sounded an optimistic note in the annual report, saying that despite depressed market conditions, the firm continued to see growth, particularly in Latin America and South Asia.

"Looking back to the near 20 years of Swiber's existence, I can say that we have all come a long way in building this company together," he wrote.

Yasmine Yahya

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2016, with the headline 'Company harboured big dreams of being global player'. Print Edition | Subscribe