Our History


The beginnings

SPO’s parent company, Swire Pacific, entered into a joint venture with Northern Offshore Ltd., a leading supply boat operator in the North Sea, to own and operate supply boats “East of Suez” on a 50/50 basis. Swire Northern Offshore Corporation was incorporated in Panama on 20 March 1975. The company was established with four 3,500 brake horsepower supply vessels: the Pacific Supplier, the Pacific Worker, the Pacific Builder and the Pacific Ranger.


Cementing Swire’s commitment through SPO

Swire Pacific Offshore Services Pte Ltd was established in Singapore on 19th July 1975 to hold Swire’s interest in this new joint venture.


Expanding into the Middle East

SPO established its first outport office in Dubai to support vessels working in the Middle East.


The first DP vessel

SPO took delivery of the Pacific Constructor, the company’s first Dynamically Positioned (DP) vessel. The multi-purpose dive-support vessel became an important star-earner when on hire and a useful training ground in DP before this technology was widely deployed in the offshore industry.


A wholly owned subsidiary

Swire Pacific Offshore Services Pte Ltd acquired full control of the joint venture business and the operating company was renamed Swire Pacific Offshore Operations Limited (SPO).


Fire-fighting on the Bombay High

In July 1982, the Pacific Constructor was mobilised to attend a blowout on the jack-up rig, Sagar Vikas, 100 miles off the coast of Mumbai, India. The vessel played a vital role in extinguishing the massive fire after five days of intensive operations under the guidance of the famous American oil well firefighter, Red Adair.


Pioneering DP3

The Pacific Ataawhai joined the SPO fleet in 1984. This multi-function supply, fire-fighting, RIV standby and dive-support vessel was DP3 capable and fitted with a Simrad Kongsberg ADP MK II triple computer and a fully redundant system. At that time, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) had not yet developed the DP Class 3 notation and SPO became a pioneer of DP3 in the offshore industry.


Pacific Claymore to the rescue

SPO’s 1982-built Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) Vessel, the Pacific Claymore undertook a dramatic salvage operation to extinguish a raging fire on board a general cargo ship, Anjalena, in the Arabian Gulf. Captain Christopher Fox, who led the fire-fighting efforts, said: “…every man of the crew of Pacific Claymore worked beyond normal limits and never faltered…”.


Pacific Claymore's three-decade charter

Pacific Claymore was subsequently converted to a multi-purpose crane, standby, dive-support vessel and went on continuous charter to Dubai Petroleum Establishment from 1985 to 2012 - an incredible 26 years and five months, despite numerous re-tendering exercises and stiff competition.


Facing the severe downturn

The boom years of high oil prices finally ended in 1986, when Saudi Arabia upped its production dramatically and the price of oil plummeted. With a glut of OPEC oil on the market, offshore activities worldwide all but dried up and many companies folded.


Persevering in the downturn

SPO sustained five years of heavy losses, but with the support of the Swire Pacific Board, the SPO management persevered, adopted cost-cutting measures, found alternative employment for their vessels and continued to invest in the business so that it was well positioned to benefit from the inevitable market upturn in the early 1990s.


Taking delivery of the first DP-capable AHTS vessel, Pacific Ariki

The fact that SPO’s newer vessels were at the cutting edge of the industry assisted the company to win a few key contracts, which helped sustain SPO through the downturn. The Pacific Ariki was SPO’s first AHTS Vessel to incorporate the DP system. From her delivery in 1986 until 1997, she went on continuous charter to Shell Todd in the Maui Field off New Zealand.


Upgrading the fleet

From 1989 to 1991, SPO was able to take advantage of the rock-bottom asset prices following the market downturn by upgrading its fleet with the acquisition of six 1980s-built, UT704-design AHTS Vessels from Norway. They include the Pacific Centurion, the Pacific Champion, the Pacific Commodore, the Pacific Conqueror, the Pacific Challenger and the Pacific Commander. These vessels played important roles in strengthening SPO’s fleet and the company’s expansion through the next two decades.


Establishing SPO’s Head office in Singapore

SPO moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to Singapore and amalgamated it with the existing Southeast Asian regional office. The move was a logical one as Singapore was a convenient hub for the company’s global operations and was strongly encouraged by the Singapore government, which sought to establish the city-state as an international maritime centre for the region. SPO’s vessels were gradually re-flagged from Hong Kong and Panama to the Singapore Registry.


Diversifying the business – Marginal field production

The industry climate of the 1990s encouraged SPO to diversity its business into niche areas. Swire Production Testers (SPT) was a joint venture between SPO and the Singapore-based Production Testers International that brought together under-utilised equipment to offer clients cost-effective well-testing and production in marginal fields.


Expro Swire Production (ESP)

The joint venture was later re-named Expro Swire Production (ESP) which won a contract from Maersk Oil for the production of the Al Shaheen wells offshore Qatar, providing 60,000 barrels of oil and 100 million cubic feet of gas per day. Expro Swire became a wholly own subsidiary of SPO, and was later renamed Swire Production Solutions.


Adding six B Class vessels

Identifying that deep-water drilling would provide its next growth opportunity, SPO placed an order for six B Class UT720-design vessels at Ulsteinvik Shipyard in Norway, including the Pacific Banner, the Pacific Barbarian, the Pacific Battler, the Pacific Blade, the Pacific Brigand and the Pacific Buccaneer.


The largest AHTS vessels in the fleet

These B Class vessels were the largest AHTS vessels that SPO had ever built, with an impressive 12,000 brake horsepower. Two of the vessels went on to win a ground-breaking deep-water exploration contract in Indonesia, which ran from 1998 to 2000, helping to tide SPO through a dip in the oil price.


Becoming one of the largest DP OSV owners

By 1997, SPO had built a total of 24 offshore vessels equipped with Dynamic Positioning (DP), making SPO one of the world’s largest DP offshore support vessel owners.


Expanding into West Africa

In 1999, SPO succeeded in winning a spot contract with Mobil Equatorial Guinea Inc. in the Zafiro Field off the island of Malabo in the Gulf of Guinea. This was the company’s first contract in West Africa, a region that was fast growing in importance for offshore exploration and production. Further contracts were won in 2001 and the decision was taken to open an office in Douala, Cameroon; offices were opened in Nigeria and Angola in 2004 and 2006.