A new US$453 million (S$617 million) vessel built by Keppel Singmarine was officially named yesterday and will be a key factor in an offshore and marine giant's move to raise competitiveness amid the global downturn in the energy sector.
McDermott, which provides engineering solutions and designs oil production facilities, will deploy the vessel - named DLV2000 - next month to Western Australia for its first energy project.
Company executives said the ship's flexible specifications suit 90 per cent of the market's needs.
It is designed to lay out pipes to retrieve oil in offshore environments, can work in both deep and shallow water and has a 4,000 sq m deck, almost the size of a football field.
Unlike the company's anchored barges, which do not often leave their home region, the new craft can travel at about 13.5 knots, allowing it to move between projects in remote and different geographic locations.
The vessel comes at a time of transition for the Houston-based company, which is in the process of winding down its regional office here to relocate to Kuala Lumpur.
Our customers are in KL, our suppliers are there... It really allows us to address the needs of the current market, and allows us to position ourselves for cost-competitiveness.
MR HUGH CUTHBERTSON, vice-president and general manager for Asia-Pacific.
Mr Hugh Cuthbertson, the vice-president and general manager for Asia-Pacific, said yesterday that the move was about "addressing the market", and added that the move was about an "interface with our suppliers and customers".
He added: "KL is becoming a regional hub for many of our competitors... Our customers are in KL, our suppliers are there... It really allows us to address the needs of the current market, and allows us to position ourselves for cost-competitiveness."
The Straits Times understands that there were about 300 employees based in Singapore at the beginning of the year, but that this has fallen to about 200.
The office will be wound down to a small presence by the third quarter of this year.
It has made similar moves elsewhere.
McDermott chief executive David Dickson said at a media event on Tuesday that the firm has undertaken rigorous cost-cutting measures that have helped the firm post a robust performance despite prolonged low oil prices.
He said that they were "ahead of the pack" and had begun looking at trimming the fat before the downturn in 2014.
The company brought in a new management team to restructure the company and created initiatives such as centralising support services, he added.
Its staff strength has gone down from about 14,000 globally to below 12,000 today, Mr Dickson said.
McDermott is placing its bets on the Middle East and its national oil companies.
"Money is still being invested in national oil companies. We are well positioned there," Mr Dickson noted.
The firm has bucked the trend of most offshore and marine players and done relatively well in the past year.
McDermott grew its order book of oil production facilities last year to US$4.2 billion, up from US$3.6 billion in 2014.
The jump was the largest increase in orders since 2012.