The Mediterranean Maritime Hub in Malta serves as a safe operational haven bridging Europe and North Africa, courtesy of MMH Malta Ltd; the facilitator behind the regions’ one-stop shop industry enabler
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Josh Hyland
Previously known as Ablecare Oilfield Services Group Holdings Ltd (AOSG), a successful 2016 tendering process delivered by the Maltese Government saw MMH Malta Ltd initiate its vision to develop, manage, and operate the facilities at the former Marsa Shipyard in Valletta Port; transforming them into the now-known Mediterranean Maritime Hub (MMH).
Primarily providing manpower, support, drilling operations, rig project management, logistics expertise, terminal and yard operations, procurement, engineering and facilities management to Malta, the Mediterranean, and North Africa; MMH now leverages experience and industry knowledge from a host of contributing entities made up of former businesses, while also developing its MMH Academy to prepare for industry trends of the future.
Deputy Chairperson, Angelique Maggi introduces: “The 2016 opportunity to develop the Mediterranean Maritime Hub has led MMH to reassess its operations as well as to consider potential new markets in the light of the new resources and resulting capabilities, and also to rebrand itself because of this acquisition. These actions ensure that MMH is able to keep offering its clients the expected level of engagement and resulting service level expectations which are one of the Group’s fundamental differentiators in this sector; permitting the Group to be in the market position which it is today.
“Our head offices are based in Malta, which is found in the centre of the Mediterranean along the main shipping routes linking three continents: Europe, North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Being the nearest point to the North African mainland we offer a base facility to service offshore drilling contractors, oil operators and transhipment operators operating within the Mediterranean and North African regions.”
MMH with its holistic service offering including the aforementioned MMH Academy all contributes to the end Mediterranean Maritime Hub unit; thus facilitating the most complex and most rudimentary of tasks required within the offshore sector.
Maggi continues: “Today’s MMH business offerings are diverse in nature, relevant to several distinct markets and thus require a widespread and a multi-skilled workforce and able facilities so to effectively deliver the products and services which meet and exceed client expectations. We also strive to develop MMH’s organisation by working on adopting a relatively strenuous but effective ‘just-in-time’ model approach to prepare, ramp-up and control its own resource capabilities and resulting capital expenditures.”
Ultimately, MMH’s approach ensures a one-stop shop service remit epitomised by the numerous stakeholder relationships entered into to compound its network and portfolio. The body’s suppliers, service providers, strategic partners and adjoining MMH strands combine to guarantee controlled, quick, quality service delivery and definitive client satisfaction.
MMH Malta epitomises this ethos virtue of its ‘fit for purpose’ supply chain support, integrated service provision, project planning acumen, repeatable and reliable service support, and regional reach; as an indictment of the overall MMH USP.
“Client Satisfaction is key to a long-term successful business and MMH strives to build relationships with its clients, to understand their needs and requirements, and to offer an integrated solution made up from its own capabilities and those of its clients and providers. This ensures successful work execution through a unified and collaborative approach,” Maggi explains. “We strive to be considered as an extension of our clients thus assuring that clients’ interests are safeguarded. This is a core foundation on which long lasting relationships are built.”
The Hub itself serves as a similarly streamlined facilitator in Valletta’s Grand Harbour; its diverse offerings leaving no stone unturned when it comes to client satisfaction while also focusing on value-add propositions that help to make operations more efficient and to bring costs down.
Maggi continues: “The Mediterranean Maritime Hub is a 42-acre port facility complete with the hinterland areas, yards, sheds, engineering workshops and office facilities. With its ISPS certification and ongoing actions to implement the Freezone status, the Hub is an industry facilitator and provides a safe haven for those working within the site.
“It’s a unique facility - a national asset - for which we have the responsibility and obligation to develop and maintain to high standards; and it remains one of our major differentiators.”
MMH’s other differentiator emanates from its family-owned status and subsequent culture. Both adaptive and adoptive, the model is based on trust and strong relationships which transcend throughout every division and every employee.
“This results in a situation where - business wide - family members and employees work together in the same environment and have equal work opportunities,” Maggi emphasises. “Such a model has yielded a positive impact on our clients, who ultimately experience the same care and attention that only a family model can provide.”
This family-driven ethos and commitment to succession planning also drives entrepreneurial decision-making and quick, proactive investments as evidenced through a host of facility upgrades.
So far, these have included substantial funds into dredging of the sea area, increasing the draft to 10.5 metres; resurfacing and paving works; upgrading of underground services; a new entrance area to accommodate enhanced security and customs amenities; a three-storey car park; an upgraded quayside area; improved office spaces; and further investment in the training facility with the setup to host Well Control and CompEx courses.
“The total investment so far has been circa €25 million, and it contributes once again to the central aspect of MMH’s culture to positively contribute to our clients’ operations,” Maggi says. “This year, we are also embarking on the installation of an 800 tonne travel lift to cater for maintenance works on larger vessels which require to be done in the dry.
“Additional investments include the widening of the existing dock - from 50 to 85 metres - to improve the berthing facilities at Valletta Port; which will accommodate larger drill ships and vessels.”
Fit for purpose
MMH is subsequently able to relocate, operate and expand its capabilities according to clients’ requests, and this has led to projects being undertaken in a host of countries in the region whereby the Company was able to set up shop in a transparent manner meeting all FCPA requirements to prepare for clients’ operations.
“This has always been done with the highest level of integrity and always by meeting and exceeding the stringent compliance requirements that this industry demands,” Maggi assures. “On site, we have resultantly worked on rig maintenance projects hosted at the facility, as well as stewarding drill pipe and riser inspections and repair in line with OEM specifications, and also the assessment and execution of marine vessel maintenance works.
“We are currently the logistics base for Technip FMC, who are working on a project, offshore, in Libya. For the past 17 years we have also been offering concerted support to our clients through our recruitment arm. In fact we have a pool of trained candidates who are readily available and carefully selected to meet clients’ requirements.”
A core MMH specialty is being able to provide clients with full crews to man-up a rig at the start of a new drilling campaign.
Maggi continues: “From experience, we factor in a contingency too, so our clients don’t go short-handed and costly delays are avoided. Our attention to detail includes actively assisting crew with transport, accommodation and joining instructions.
“Local content is often a critical project component. We have successfully supported projects in North Africa and our services included local recruitment undertaken by teams on the ground using MMH and its attendant resources to provide assessment support and training if required.”
An additional, significant, investment has also seen the establishment of the Centre of Excellence which “offers like-minded collaborative organisations and entrepreneurs the opportunity to make use of a ‘fit for purpose’ maritime and oil & gas-focused facility, strategically located within Valletta Port at the crossroads of the industrious Mediterranean basin. This offers the opportunity to offer clients a responsive, efficient and effective planned and unplanned inspection, maintenance and repair service capability”.
Maggi adds: “The synergies created through the presence of this diverse maritime and oil & gas business community within the Hub ensures that clients can benefit and make use of a holistic service benefiting from such a service during all the stages of a vessel’s lifecycle.”
MMH is committed to achieving the highest standards of technical support and safe operation. Consequently, MMH is also committed to achieving and sustaining the highest recognised international standards for the services and support it provides.
MMH is accredited to the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System and OHSAS 18001:2007 Occupational Health & Safety Management System. Its commitment towards QHSE is thereby assured by the continuous monitoring and improvement of regular DNV audited and certified management systems.
MMH’s HSE function is as pivotal as any arm within the organisation, compounded by ISO18001 certification, and has recently manifested through two years of being LTI free.
“This achievement is only possible due to the commitment of the management and the dedication of the employees,” Maggi expresses. “Similarly, regarding the environment aspect of HSE, we work in line with ISO 14001 and constantly encourage employees to take measures which safeguard the environment; keeping in mind that due to past incidents, the oil & gas industry has become highly regulated and encourages all those working in this industry to follow high standards.
“Our recruitment work practices have recently been certified to be fully compliant with the Maritime Labour Convention, a legal instrument promoted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which sets out seafarers’ rights to decent conditions of work. We are also TRACE certified which means that we are in compliance with US FCPA legislation. This gives peace of mind to our clients.”
Another milestone includes the award given by Malta Customs to designate MMH as an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO). The certification reflects MMH’s compliance to the strict customs criteria, demonstrated by quality, compliance and trustworthiness in the international supply chain.
A recent initiative in which MMH participated was the ‘European Week for Waste Reduction’ initiative. Aligning perfectly with MMH’s own CSR values, its resultant environmental management system and plan encourages re-usage, recycling and reduction across its workforce and operations; promoting the wider campaign in order to broaden the awareness further.
A safe operational haven
MMH’s aforementioned Academy represents one of the more innovative and poignant features of the organisation’s overall CSR strategy, staying true to the element of a business that helps to instil each and every tactic, solution, investment and improvement: i.e., its employees.
“Apart from investing in infrastructure, MMH is also investing in the people associated with the Hub,” a recent article stated.
Maggi added: “The MMH Academy was created in 2015 to provide holistic training solutions to the industry and to deliver a competent workforce, enhancing clients’ operational reputations and commercial bottom lines. The Academy is crucial to the Hub’s operation as it readies our workforce with the right safety culture, knowledge and skills. After all, our people are a key element in making the Hub project a success.”
It also aids in the monitoring of and adapting to the most pressing of industry trends. In recent times these market requirements have included efficiency and automated aspects of operational excellence; enhanced HR and training procedures; consolidation based on Malta’s advantageous positioning between two continents; transparency; occupational health & safety; and of course the previously focused-upon topic of the environment and climate change.
Many, including the latter, are driven not just by internal continuous improvement tactics, but by wider regulatory requirements driven by intercontinental, governmental bodies; and this is why MMH’s reputation across both regions as a reliable, certified and trustworthy contributor to the oil & gas industry will prove all the more pivotal in order to achieve both the organisation’s and the regions’ sector ambitions in the years to come.
“[In the next three-five years I would hope and expect to see MMH progress] via a mature and diversified organisational service offering - through ourselves and strategic alliances - to meet the requirements of a diverse marine, oil & gas market,” Maggi concludes. “We remain open for collaboration with key players in this industry to forge strong alliances; we will look to strengthen the Hub’s supply chain through these alliances; and we welcome industry players to visit the site and to make use of a unique facility that serves as a safe operational haven bridging Europe and North Africa.”