He said one anchor-handling tug supply (AHTS) vessel was now being built in a shipyard in China, adding that the company was in the process of contracting out the construction of two more similar vessels to builders in that country.
“The three vessels would cost about US$38mil. One of the vessels is for a regular client from the Middle East for use in deepsea operation while the other two will be for sale,” he told StarBizWeek.
Each vessel will take between 18 and 20 months to build.
Lau said TAS would continue to outsource the construction of bigger vessels to shipyards in China as that country could build vessels at competitive rates, had proven quality workmanship and could deliver the vessels on time.
He said the cost of the AHTS vessel now under construction in China shipyard was about 3% lower than if built locally.
Lau said TAS had secured orders for five tugboats worth RM22.7mil last month and another one worth RM2.5mil this month from clients in Indonesia.
Demand for tugboats in Indonesia is spurred by the growth of mining activities.
Lau said the company had secured contracts worth a total of RM84.5mil for financial year ending May 31, 2012.
Its clients are mainly from the Middle East, Indonesia and Singapore.
He said the company was finalising a deal with a regular Middle East client to build two AHTS vessels for about US$32.5mil.
If the deal is sealed, one of the vessels will be constructed locally and the other in China.
“We are also negotiating with a local client to build another harbour tug. The client's previous order of a harbour tug will be delivered in the next few weeks,” he added.
Lau said due to inavailability of space, the company's Sibu shipyard could not be expanded to enable more vessels to be built at any one time.
The company may build another shipyard in other designated shipbuilding zones in Sarawak.
He said the Sibu shipyard had been upgraded and was expected to take delivery of one gantry crane soon to speed up work processes.