Keller company Austral Construction has taken delivery of a huge A$6.5 million, 400-tonne-capacity barge. As well as securing major new projects, it’s set to open up a marine construction and maintenance market worth around $330 million in the medium term.

Austral's giant new platform for growth

As marine infrastructure ages, ships grow larger and mining production expands in Western Australia, projects for new and upgraded port facilities are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Recognising the enticing opportunities ahead, Austral has made a significant investment in a new modular barge. Not only will it help the team win new projects, but it will also boost their reputation as one of Australia’s leading marine piling and maintenance contractors.

The heavy-duty, self-elevating modular platform (SEMP) is the largest of its kind in Australia. It boasts a deck surface of just over 500m2 and a deck-crane capacity of 300 tonnes. Crucially, its four 42m legs allow work in depths of up to 30m – Austral’s other jack-up barge has just an 80-tonne capacity and can only operate in water up to 20m deep.

“Commitment to our clients”

“Thanks to our strong client relationships and proven track record in the region, we’re uniquely and strategically positioned to take advantage of the growing market here,” says Piling Superintendent Mark Johnson. “The investment in this barge shows our commitment to our clients and to providing innovative, safe and efficient equipment for our people and the projects they work on.

“This platform gives us a clear competitive advantage and will move us into a larger market, allowing us to complete jobs that require larger cranes and foundation equipment.”

Manufactured by Ravestein in the Netherlands, the barge is already in demand. It’s scheduled for several projects, including a fuel-wharf upgrade in Dampier, the Ell Layby wharf upgrade and a channel markers project for the Pilbara Port Authority (PPA).

“Simply put, these projects can’t be completed effectively without this new barge,” adds Mark. “In fact, the PPA has specified that a fixed-platform barge must be used to mitigate programme and delay risks.”

Global opportunities

The barge will be used on a wide range of projects, including piling and drilling; wharf, jetty and bridge construction; and marine structural installations and maintenance. And although it will be based in Dampier, Mark says there are opportunities for the wider Keller Group.

“One of the advantages is that although the barge is very large, it’s also modular,” he explains. “That makes it fairly easy to transport over sea or land, which means we can use it nationally and internationally throughout Keller.

“This is a key strategic investment for Austral at an exciting time in our history. We look forward to marketing it widely to our clients and opening up many opportunities.”

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