August 4, 2021

KOTUG Australia Pty Ltd  (KOTUG) and WESTUG PTY Ltd (Westug) have successfully concluded an agreement to re-shape the towage services for Pilbara Marine, a subsidiary of Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) in Port Hedland. The service includes the operation of nine state of the art Rotortugs at Port Hedland, which have been servicing Fortescue and other port users since the commencement of operations in 2019.

After almost three years of working together to successfully establish the towage service for Fortescue in Port Hedland, Westug and KOTUG have mutually and amicably agreed to exit their agreement as of August 1st, 2021 with regard to this operation.

The boards of both companies agreed that Fortescue’s Port Hedland towage business will benefit from having a single party managing operations, and believe that a single contractor delivery model will have a positive impact on the management of operations and overall responsiveness to the end client.

KOTUG will retain its existing Head Agreement with Pilbara Marine, requiring the company to supply tugs and have overall responsibility for the delivery of Port Hedland towage services.  The operation of the towage services was previously sub-contracted to Westug, however, KOTUG will assume control upon Westug exiting the business and will directly manage the towage operation at Port Hedland. All existing Westug personnel will be transferred across to KOTUG as part of this agreement.

KOTUG’s CEO Ard-Jan Kooren stated; “KOTUG  is fully committed to Pilbara Marine and Fortescue, we now look forward to focusing on working to fully optimise our Port Hedland towage operations and working in partnership with our valued client, Pilbara Marine. We thank Westug for their cooperation over the years. With our tugs, motivated back office team, shore support staff  and crew partnerships, we look forward to taking the Port Hedland towage business to the next level.”

Westug CEO Mark Malone: “We are proud of the work our team has done to build the operation in Port Hedland, but the intensity of the operational requirements to keep such a busy port serviced to the required level is best served by a single towage operator. Despite our best efforts, having two parties sharing responsibility proved to be too much of a challenge. We wish KOTUG well in servicing Fortescue, and leave the operation with strong relationships and our focus squarely on other growth opportunities in the Australian market.”