August 5 - Maritime services provider Wilhelmsen Ships Services (WSS) has established its first office in Myanmar as part of its global expansion programme.

Following recent political reform, Myanmar has opened up to foreign direct investment and WSS has taken the opportunity to play a role in shaping the country's ports, shipping and offshore sectors.

Myanmar is rich in natural resources and activity in its offshore and energy sectors is rapidly growing.

Bjorn Tonsberg, WSS vice president, Asia Pacific said regarding the expansion: "With borders to China, Thailand, India, Laos and Bangladesh, Myanmar has strategic regional importance. We have been looking to expand into the country for some time, but it was necessary to wait until the market conditions were favourable. This is a high-growth market and we believe that the right time is now.

"The market does not expect to see a significant increase in vessels calling at Myanmar this year. However increased exploration activities are expected in the offshore and energy industry with the continued presence of oil and gas majors. Also, there are signs of increased trading with Japan, Europe and the US."

The new WSS office was opened earlier in 2013 and is now fully operational. To ensure the needs of its clients in Myanmar are fully met, WSS has brought in Wai-phyo Naing as business development manager.

"Cost saving and the availability of supplies in their home port of Yangon is the main priority for most of our customers. With this in mind, we are pleased to be able to offer a service 'on-the-ground' in Myanmar," explained Naing.

"We are currently building up our infrastructure in order to effectively offer our products and services to the government-owned fleet of just under 25 vessels, as well as oil majors operating in the area and international customers calling at Yangon Port," he went on.

WSS Myanmar will also service oil field support vessels, as well as traders and charterers seeking ships agency services. The company will also be looking towards the safety services market, as it expects demand for fire rescue and safety services to rise over the coming months.

 For a detailed review of the project forwarding industry in Myanmar, see the upcoming July/August 2013 edition of HLPFI.

Bjorn Tonsberg, WSS vice president, Asia Pacific and Wai-phyo Naing, business development manager, Myanmar