Zakher Marine International Inc. – A Culture of Growth

Zakher Marine International Inc. has made a name for itself providing services to the Offshore Oil and Gas Industries and Offshore Marine Construction Companies, remaining focused on client satisfaction and retention.

This leading marine services provider is imbued with a culture of expansion and entrepreneurship.

“We’re an offshore support services provider. We are the leading player in the GCC, operating one of the largest fleets, including the largest fleet of self-elevated self-propelled jack-up barges globally,” says Ali El Ali, Managing Director of the company.

The firm’s story begins in Abu Dhabi in 1984, still home to the company’s head office today. From the beginning, Zakher Marine’s vision was of expanding its business, and it has stayed true to that vision. As recently as 2016 the company launched a brand-new Saudi Branch under the name of Zakher Marine Saudi Company Limited (ZMS). Fulfilling this vision of growth continues to this day.

“Our unique selling point is Operational excellence in combination with top-class assets,” Ali tells us. “We’ve just completed our refinancing, led by Goldman Sachs, to include a war chest to allow us to go into the market for further organic and inorganic acquisitions.”

In this quest for growth, Zakher Marine operates across a range of offshore marine sectors, including top-notch marine chartering services, as well as chartering analysis for the best options in marine transportation. Ali points to the company’s largest fleet of self-propelled jack-up barges in the world, and this fleet of high-quality, top-performing and self-propelling multi-purpose jack-up support barges offers efficiency and better operation than its competitors. That’s on top of a full range and integrated subsea services, saving its clients time, cost, and reducing operational risks.

Zakher Marine has achieved remarkable growth over the last decade, building new vessels and barges, expanding its fleet with new vessels and jack-up barges that meet the highest standards and requirements of a plethora of local and international clients. Today Zakher Marine operates over 50 offshore support vessels and 27 jack-up barges.

A Safe Environment

The company has built up resources and a proud reputation that has stood it in good stead even in the face of global crises.

“Aside from the obvious Covid-19 pandemic challenges, there were the low prices across the oil and gas markets over the last couple of years, but we’ve withstood those challenges by ensuring we’re operating at optimal cost levels to ensure we’re still making a profit,” Ali points out.

In alignment with the rest of Zakher Marine’s management, Ali is committed to ensuring the company provides safe and healthy working conditions for all its employees and any client personnel based on its vessels. Zakher’s number one goal is to sustain safe, environmentally friendly operating practices that comply with national and international codes and regulations, relevant standards, and guidelines, as well as the requirements of its clients.

The company’s mission is driven by the values of safety, security and the health of Zakher Marine’s employees, alongside sound environmental protection and high quality. Succeeding at each of these goals is essential to providing value-added solutions to Zakher’s marine transportation services. The company’s employees work conscientiously and diligently to continuously improve SSHEQ, meeting world-class standards.

In practical terms, this means Zakher Marine is committed to zero harm to people, property and the environment, and continual improvement and compliance with standards and requirements. Zakher Marine complies with all applicable legal, international, statutory, regulatory and consistent with customer requirements, and identifies hazards by implementing effective risk assessment. The company carries out regular safety and emergency exercises and promotes open communications and employee participation. The firm’s “no blame” culture encourages reporting, while the continued recruitment of well-qualified employees who are trained and developed within their roles ensures the highest quality standards are delivered to meet clients’ needs, requirements and expectations.

A Number One Provider

Zakher Marine is able to employ people with the skills and commitment needed to fulfil its vision because its reputation goes before it.

“Just by being the number one provider in the market we can attract talent,” Ali tells us. “People in our industry space want to work for the best brand. We ensure we’re providing the best service. Our HR is comprehensive in providing all the required tools, including succession planning to ensure we are attracting and retaining the top talent in the market.”

With companies that have a strong vision for growth, a big challenge can be preserving the culture that made it a success in the first place. However, speaking with Ali it is clear that he believes Zakher Marine’s culture is made for growth.

“On a culture level, we’re a founder-led business with a drive and commitment towards growth, so we ensure there’s a management structure in place to support that growth,” Ali says. “Growth enforces our culture even further. It has further emphasised the support we get from our employees and the pride they have in working for such an organisation.”

Of course, lots of businesses will speak glowingly of their corporate culture, but fundamentally it can only be judged by what it has achieved. Zakher Marine has completed a wide array of marine projects, including pipeline rehabilitation, pipeline inspection and monitoring, the installation of Channel market buoys, and last but not least, wreck removal.

Zakher Marine demonstrated their skills in this arena when a jack-up barge capsized during coring operations on a pipeline route survey. All crew were recovered safely but the barge was lost. Since the wreck was now in the route of the pipeline and close to a major oilfield, it needed to be removed. Zakher Marine won the contract to remove the wreck, and over three weeks commenced with procedures and risk assessments. They recorded the site in every detail and conducted risk assessments on board to determine the safest and most environmentally friendly procedures to remove the wreck. The whole project was completed within budget and time frame with no incidents, injury or environmental damage.

It was a project that demonstrates the commitment, hard work and expertise of Zakher Marine’s team, and it is set to achieve still more as it grows.

“We will continue on our trajectory to be a global player and leader in our market,” Ali concludes. “We’re currently a true regional powerhouse on track to expanding our presence.”

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