Driving efficient lifting solutions for the offshore market

The company's cranes are designed to be versatile and adaptable. (Image source: Thunder Cranes)


David Withers, chief operating officer at offshore lifting solutions company Thunder Cranes, discusses the company’s versatile offshore rental cranes, the drive for cost-effectiveness, business prospects in the Middle East and innovating to stay ahead of the game

Can you give some background about Thunder Cranes and your products and services?

Thunder Cranes was founded in 1994, and has become the leading provider of portable, modular, offshore rental cranes in the world today. Developed in the USA, our API-compliant cranes offer lift capacity ranging from two tons to 60 tons. They are designed to be versatile and adaptable, with several tie-down scenarios, on-deck placement configurations, and boom-length options to choose from.

The versatility, ease of installation, and range of our cranes allows our clients to efficiently support well intervention, facilities engineering, P&A and decommissioning jobs, without compromising safety, time, and performance.

Are there any market trends that are impacting your business?

One of the market forces that drives innovation and adoption in the modular offshore rental crane business is the same one that drives innovation and adoption of “rigless” well intervention techniques:  this comes from tighter profit margins in mature offshore oil and gas fields.

To keep the oil flowing in mature fields requires regular downhole intervention work, and the only solutions that make sense are the ones that give you maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The same applies for plug and abandonment work – there is a big incentive to find the most cost-effective methods of P&A, for obvious reasons.

An added benefit to aiming for the most efficient method is that these are almost always likely to be the lowest CO2 emitting solution. Smaller, more efficient machinery runs on smaller engines, and the faster the work is completed the less time those engines are running and emitting.

How do you view prospects in the Middle East for your lifting solutions, and how are you hoping to develop your business in the region?

Thunder Cranes, which is headquartered in Malaysia, has until now focused its attentions on South East Asia.  However, we are well-positioned to expand in the Middle East as we have had an operation in the UAE since 2009, serving clients such as Dubai Petroleum and ADNOC. With the push for rigless methods, cost-effectiveness and efficiency, we feel that the mature offshore oil and gas fields in the Arabian Gulf are ready for our lifting solutions.

The market outlook going into 2024 is excellent around these regions, and furthermore, we know that once given the opportunity to support offshore projects in new markets, clients will find Thunder Cranes invaluable from a performance and efficiency perspective.

How important is innovation to your company, and do you have plans for any new products or services?

It is the innovations made by Thunder Cranes in our modular offshore crane models since 1994 that has allowed us to leapfrog the competition. These innovations allow us to perform a rig up and rig down time of just 12 to 18 working hours for any of our pedestal or stiff leg cranes. These times are unmatched by others.

Going forwards, we know that as offshore platforms age, new challenges will be presented due to the lower integrity and load bearing capacity of the structures. We have plans to innovate to adapt to these conditions.

Our latest service is in a new but related field – the flare tip replacement. We work with a world-class design and engineering team to bring innovative lifting solutions for flare tip changeouts (both offshore and onshore), so watch this space!

What do you think is the secret of Thunder Cranes’ success?

Thunder Cranes has always focused on customer satisfaction through safe and reliable performance, and successful, timely delivery of our services. We get high customer satisfaction scores, and this is the strategy that has resulted in consistently winning long-term service contracts with oil and gas companies. We owe this reliable delivery to our highly-experienced and professional staff, and their consistent application of our core values.

David Withers has been with Thunder Cranes for 23 years, and prior to his current role served as VP of Sales and head of Special Projects.