Exmar : Leadership through Innovation

Josh RayfieldEditorial Team
Josh Rayfield - Head of Projects Editorial Team

EXMAR aims to serve its customers with innovative solutions in the field of offshore extraction, transformation, production, storage and transportation, by sea, via liquefied natural gases, petrochemical gases and liquid hydrocarbons.


In an ever-changing world, EXMAR strongly believes that energy value chains require dynamic and innovative thinking to safeguard continuity in the exploration, processing, transport and supply of energy. This means offering its partners competitive state-of-the-art solutions. EXMAR sees progress along these energy value chains over time as a combination of creative ideas with solutions that are safe, efficient, feasible and sustainable.

EXMAR designs, builds, certifies, owns, leases and operates specialised, floating maritime infrastructure for this purpose. It aims for the highest standards in commercial, technical, quality assurance and administrative management of these assets.

The roots of EXMAR lie in the Boelwerf shipyard that was established in Temse, Belgium back in 1829. The Company’s evolution from that point onwards has been epitomised by innovations in the design of specialised vessels and floating terminals that facilitate and add value to the global energy supply chain.

At the beginning of the 1990s, EXMAR became a subsidiary of the publicly-quoted Compagnie Maritime Belge, entering LNG and offshore markets for the first time and growing its LPG midsize fleet to 23 vessels, as well as expanding its participation in both semi-pressurised and Very Large Gas Carrier (VLGC) markets with chartered tonnage and newbuilds.

The company, EXMAR NV, was publicly listed as a separate entity on the Euronext Exchange in 2003 with Chief Executive Officer, Nicolas Saverys at the helm. Since then EXMAR has evolved from being a transporter into a transformer of energy with numerous industry firsts in innovation. These include the world’s first regasification operation at sea (2005) and the world’s first commercial ship-to-ship transfer of LNG at sea (2007).

By its very nature, the Company operates globally due to the trading requirements of vessel charterers. Historically EXMAR’s base has always been in Europe, with Belgium as its headquarters. However, the Company has been present for decades in Houston, North America with the subsidiary EXMAR Offshore Company as well as in the Far East with the Hong Kong Office and now representation with its office in Shanghai.

Main Company activities

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG):EXMAR LPG is a leading ship owner and operator in the transportation of liquefied gas products such as Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG, butane, propane and a mixture of both), anhydrous ammonia and petrochemical gases. It owns one of the world’s largest midsize LPG fleets which plays a vital role in the worldwide seaborne transportation of petrochemicals. EXMAR has been able to partner with oil and gas majors, as well as with the world’s largest gas shippers and traders thanks to very close partnerships with mid-to-long term charters rather than very short-term spot activity.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG):EXMAR is a leading player in LNG shipping, regasification and liquefaction, having pioneered the ship-to-ship transfer of LNG at sea as well as on-board regasification of LNG to feed onshore energy grids. EXMAR has now successfully designed and built two unique, barge-based floating LNG terminals which will be used for the import and export of natural gas. Since 2005, EXMAR has retained its world-leading status in the handling, operations and management of complex terminals such as FSRU vessels. Unrivalled experience is applied to the management of a total of 11 FSRUs belonging to three different owners, and involvement in crew managing an operational LNG bunkering vessel.

Offshore:EXMAR Offshore is dedicated to the ownership and leasing of offshore assets and providing floating solutions to the production, drilling, and accommodations market. This includes operating a variety of offshore assets for both the EXMAR Group and external client owners. EXMAR’s office in Houston specialises in the design and development of floating production systems as well as engineering services related to marine vessels, ships and offshore units. It developed the uniquely scalable OPTI® semi-submersible hull design for deployment on both OPTI®EX and DELTAHOUSE Full Productions Systems deployed in the Gulf of Mexico which has proven economic benefits in the field. In general, EXMAR is one of the most important midsize vessel shipping company, with a fleet of 20 playing an important role in the global petrochemical industry.

Supporting Services:In addition to its core business activities, EXMAR has business interests in a variety of companies in the fields of ship management, specialized travel, offshore consultancy and supplies to the marine and offshore industry.

Innovative ability

The combination of engineers, naval architects, officers on board and technical staff on shore are constantly challenging convention and anticipating customer needs.  

EXMAR continues to demonstrate its ability to deliver innovations to the energy supply chain which improve efficiency, bringing forth a healthy return on investment and which create new market opportunities for our customers and long-term partners.

The approach towards long-term partnerships in the LPG sector through mid and long-term charter agreements with first class customers has already been alluded to.

With LNG and offshore, business partnerships with customers have spanned years or even decades which has allowed EXMAR to spearhead innovations in the oil and gas industry. Two such relationships include the decades-long partnership with Excelerate Energy, with whom EXMAR jointly developed ship-to-ship LNG transfers at sea, on-board regasification and other major innovations which have enabled the import of gas into locations with the absence of landside terminal infrastructure.

The other is with LLOG Exploration, a private oil exploration company which partnered with EXMAR and others to commission and own/operate the OPTI®EX FPS system successfully before replicating the design to a much larger DELTAHOUSE FPS some years later.

The most recent development has been the announcement that EXMAR has executed a fully effective 10-year charter with Gunvor, for the provision of its FSRU (floating Storage and Regasification Unit) barge and related services in Bangladesh.

The EXMAR FSRU barge is currently at Keppel Shipyard undergoing site specific modifications after having been delivered from Wison Offshore and Marine in December 2017. The FSRU barge is expected to arrive in Bangladesh in the fourth quarter of this year and start operations after its full commissioning.

Increasing globalisation

The most recent investment announcement has been the long-term commitment with Statoil ASA (now known as Equinor) from Norway on two environment-friendly newbuild 79,500 m³ gas carriers to transport LPG in a sustainable manner basis. Both vessels are to be delivered within 2020 and will be compliant with the most stringent NOx and SOx emission regulations.

With the increasing globalisation and internationalisation of EXMAR’s business, the Company has undergone rapid change to attract, develop and keep highly-talented people from all over the world.

At the EXMAR Group Headquarters located in Antwerp there are now over 17 nationalities working at the Company’s various subsidiaries. Comparing the Headquarters staff by age group, there is an even spread between the ages of 20 and 60 years of age. This ensures continuity in terms of knowledge capital and creates project teams with a proper mix of younger and more experienced staff members, while also having virtual parity between male and female employees at headquarters, which is somewhat unique for the industry.

To further nurture and develop talent onshore, EXMAR sponsors its personnel to take academic courses, including Master Degrees in Engineering, Business Administration and Information Management. This forms part of the continuous improvement programme for its staff. Senior EXMAR personnel regularly lecture at Maritime Academies, Universities and other education establishments. Young engineers and cadets serve on board EXMAR vessels or complete internships at EXMAR’s offices around the globe. EXMAR Ship Management has developed long-term partnerships with Mapua school and PHILCAMSAT training centre in the Philippines, as well as the Caribbean Maritime Institute in Kingston, Jamaica and regularly recruits new talent from these institutions to its growing fleet.

Nicolas Saverys, Chief Executive Officer states on the EXMAR website: “EXMAR operates in a constantly changing world, with highly fluctuating energy prices, changing geopolitics, economic turmoil in many countries and international security threats on land and sea. It takes continuous improvement, creative thinking, being opportunistic at the right time and above all a strong belief in the future to stay on top of all this.

“It has always been in EXMAR’s DNA to be the first mover to adapt to changing situations, and to determine its own course.”

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By Josh Rayfield Head of Projects
Josh Rayfield is Head of Projects for Outlook Publishing. Josh is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms, and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Josh is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Josh to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.