The Viking in Laem Chabang

9,000 kilometres, culture and religion separate Aibel’s yards in Thailand and Haugesund. But they have a common goal: Making the Johan Sverdrup Drilling Platform the best of its kind.

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Harald Revheim in a rare setting: Sitting quietly in front of his computer in the office. The workdays in Thailand have been quite hectic, with frequent visits at the work site and countless meetings and conversations with colleagues and client representatives. All photos: Aibel.

Tallish and with a rich beard, Harald Revheim is not difficult to spot at the assembly area in Laem Chabang. He heads up Aibel’s site team, a team of Norwegian specialists who have followed the construction work from beginning to end. Even before the cutting of the first steel, Harald was in place. Recently, the 10,800 tonnes Main Support Frame, also called the MSF module, left Thailand.

“It has been an amazing experience to be a part of the Thai organisation. I have experienced a completely different side of Aibel and I’m very impressed,” says the site manager eagerly.

Integrated team

The Johan Sverdrup Drilling Platform is the latest of a number of projects that Aibel has chosen to build simultaneously in Norway and Thailand. Previously, for example under the construction of the Gudrun project, the site team’s mandate was only to observe and check the quality of the local work. This time, the Norwegian experts have been an integrated part of the organisation. In Revheim’s opinion, this way of working has lifted Aibel to new heights.

“Instead of having a site team that acts as police, we have cooperated and made important decisions together throughout the entire project. This has made it easier to understand each other and has created a very good learning environment.”

The stay in Thailand has taught him a lesson about patience. 9,000 kilometres away from Haugesund, yelling is not necessarily the answer if things are not going as planned. Creating common understanding and agreement on upcoming issues have been the solution to maintaining progress for the project. Harald Revheim has experienced that his colleagues in Thailand not necessarily share his opinion about the importance of finishing one task at a time. Still, he cannot praise his Thai colleagues enough. Cooperating with people, whom he previously only knew as names in the organisation chart, has taught him a lot about work ethics and involvement.

“In general, the Thais are very focused and have incredible capacity. It’s been fantastic to see the effort they put down for the company and what they’re able to accomplish,” he says, adding.

“Just take a look at the amazing MSF module. It has really skyrocketed!”

Senior and junior

The yard in Haugesund has 125 years of history. The yard in Thailand was established 18 years ago. As other 18 year-olds, it has gained important experiences and earned its independence. But the experience from Haugesund, which is also physically located much closer to the Norwegian offshore market, still plays an important part in the development of Aibel Thailand. At the same time, impulses from the East help develop the construction environment in Norway. Established truths are challenged and new procedures arise.

“Having two yards within the same organisation is an incredibly valuable resource for Aibel and makes us unique as a supplier. It provides flexibility and good capacity, shortens implementation time and saves us from expensive hand-over costs,” Revheim states.

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When the first steel for the drilling platform was cut on 1 December 2015, Revheim (third from left) was already installed in Thailand. A year and a half and countless plates of steel later, the 10,800 tonnes heavy module has now set sail for Norway.

Without a doubt

Now that the module has left the port of Laem Chanang, Harald Reveim will also be heading home. He will follow the completion phase from his home base in Haugesund. Some “bad weather”, the mountains and skiing are some of the things he is looking forward to experiencing when returning home. But if the opportunity arises, he will be more than happy to go back to Thailand. Without a doubt.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have my family with me during the stay in Thailand. My wife and kids have had a great time, and like myself, the kids have also learned a lot. Now, I’ve noticed that they often turn to English when they want to explain something,” he says laughing.

In his opinion, the Johan Sverdrup project will prove just how well Aibel’s international business model works, and qualify the company for new, similar projects.

“The experience from Norway, combined with the Thais’ outstanding willingness to deliver, is a winning recipe,” Revheim concludes.