Bhagwan steps on the gas

Posted: April 1, 2010 in Marine, Oil & Gas

Bhagwan Marine has been servicing Western Australia’s oil and gas industry since the late ’90s.

When the final go-ahead for the $43 billion Gorgon natural gas project was given in September 2009, former crayfisherman Loui Kannikoski was well aware of its significance.

Kannikoski’s company, Geraldton-based Bhagwan Marine, has built a highly respected name in Western Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry since the late ‘90s.

Today, it lists industry leaders such as Chevron, Woodside Petroleum, BHP Billiton and Apache Energy as clients, and its fleet of close to 30 service support vessels carries out a vast array of projects.

Bhagwan Marine’s newest vessels are two Cummins KTA19-powered landing barges that are committed to the Gorgon Project, each being able to move around 400 tonnes of payload.

The $43 billion Gorgon Project has been big news since late 2009, but Loui Kannikoski says the offshore oil and gas industry as a whole in Western Australia is gearing up for stunning growth.

“The next five years is going to be the biggest ever growth period for oil and gas over here,” he says. “It’s estimated there’s going to be over $100 billion worth of projects in progress.”

Bhagwan Marine had its origins in the early 1950s when Loui Kannikoski’s  father, Laurie, began cray fishing out of Geraldton.

Finnish-born Laurie Kannikoski had been in the merchant navy and decided he wanted to settle in Australia: His life changed direction when his ship called into Geraldton in 1952 to load lead from the local mines.

Former crayfisherman Loui Kannikoski heads up Bhagwan Marine which lists industry leaders such as Chevron, Woodside Petroleum, BHP Billiton and Apache Energy as clients.

Laurie Kannikoski liked Geraldton, and work was available there, carting lead to the port. The money wasn’t so good though, and Laurie decided to give the lead cartage away and become a crayfisherman.

Son Loui left school in 1974 at the age of 14 to join his father on the cray boats. In 1985 Loui took over the family business which operated five cray vessels at one stage, but by 1997 he wanted out. “I’d lost interest in fishing,” he recalls.

The one cray boat Kannikoski had left was a twin-screw alloy 65-footer powered by 855 cubic inch Cummins diesels.

“Total Marine approached us wanting us to do one month’s work with the boat as an offshore support vessel. That was our start in the oil and gas industry,” he says.

In 2000, Loui Kannikoski built his first boat – a 24-metre fast utility vessel – to specifically service the oil and gas industry, and in the first 12 months it had 288 days of work.

Bhagwan Marine continued to invest heavily in new purpose-built vessels for offshore tasks, and then early in 2009 it acquired Dampier-based Dalmarine, adding a further 16 support vessels to the fleet.

The company’s newest vessels are a 48-metre landing barge, Bhagwan Mover, which is committed to the Gorgon Project while another new barge, the 48.5-metre Bhagwan Shaker, is expected to be at work early in 2010.

Both barges, built by Strategic Marine, are powered by dual Cummins  KTA19-M3 engines rated at 600 hp. Three Cummins 6BT generator sets are also installed on each vessel.

The Bhagwan Mover is transporting building and construction equipment 120 km from Dampier to Barrow Island off the Pilbara coast, where the Gorgon Project’s huge gas processing plant will be established.

Bhagwan Marine’s newest vessels are two Cummins KTA19-powered landing barges that are committed to the Gorgon Project, each being able to move around 400 tonnes of payload.

The proven reliability and durability of the big 19-litre in-line six Cummins was foremost in Loui Kannikoski’s mind when he was specifying equipment for the Bhagwan Mover.

Bhagwan Marine’s first KTA19 engines went into service in 2007 in the repowered 35-metre utility vessel Samson Explorer.

“The KTA19 certainly has a reputation for reliability, and we also like the parts availability and cost of recon parts,” he says.

“We have our KTA19s running at 1600 rpm for a cruise speed of 10 knots, and they’re very efficient at that speed, using a total of around 130 litres an hour.”

He points out the Bhagwan Mover now holds the record on the Dampier to Barrow Island run, completing a round trip in 21 hours. It’s not unusual for the old barges to take 14 hours for just one leg.

Loui Kannikoski expects to have more Cummins-powered landing barges built in a move that will further underpin Bhagwan Marine’s commitment to the offshore oil and gas industry.

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