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Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering NV (DEME) is an international group of specialised companies in the field of capital and maintenance dredging, land reclamation, port infrastructure development, offshore related services for the oil & gas industry, farshore windfarm installation, environmental remediation a.o. The group is based in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, and has current operations on the five continents.[2] The roots of the group date back to the mid 19th century.[3] DEME is committed to the practice of sustainable development.[2] In 2009, the Flemish government agency Flanders Investment and Trade[4] awarded the Export Lion 2009 to DEME for what was called its 'sustainable strategy of internationalization' and 'the many prestigious assignments carried out worldwide'.[5][6] In a survey by temporary employment company Randstad Holding of 12,000 Belgians in early 2010 DEME was proclaimed one of the most attractive employers in Belgium.[7]

Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering NV
Limited company
HeadquartersZwijndrecht, Belgium
Area served
Key people
Luc Bertrand (Chairman), Luc Vandenbulcke (CEO)
ServicesDredging, land reclamation, port construction, marine contracting, oil & gas, environmental remediation, farshore windfarms, financial engineering
Revenue€2.356 billion (2017)[1]
Operating income
€230.5 million (2017)[1]
Number of employees
4,900 (2017)[1]
Websitewww.deme-group.com [138]


The history of DEME and the Belgian ocean engineering industry at large should be seen against the background of three peculiar conditions: the need for Belgian people to keep open their sea lanes through the Flemish Banks in the North Sea; the efforts to maintain free access to the deep inland port of Antwerp; and their perennial struggle against flooding in the Low Countries. In the process valuable expertise was built up in throwing up banks, reclaiming polders and embanking rivers.

This millenary experience is well documented in history.[3][8] At around 1180, a very early canal lock was already in operation at the Belgian city of Damme on the canal from Bruges to the sea. In 1292 dredging works are chronicled in the canals that linked the mediaeval city of Bruges to the North Sea. In his Divina Commedia (between 1308 and 1321) the Italian writer Dante Alighieri compared the hard embankment on which he was sitting to the dikes that Flemish craftsmen had built between Bruges and the Dutch border.[9] As craftsmanship gave way to a more professional approach and the Industrial Revolution found its way to the European continent, local contractors incorporated companies[10] that would later merge and consolidate as projects became bigger and the business needed ever more capital. But the millenary tradition, skills and expertise of dealing with water has remained.

The roots of DEME are in the coastal region and the Antwerp area of Belgium.[3][11] Three companies are at the cradle of DEME: Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon, Ackermans & van Haaren and Société Générale de Dragage (Dutch: Algemene Baggermaatschappij).

Around 1850, the De Cloedt family had a small contracting business in the Belgian city of Bruges which diversified into dredging canals and building coastal defences as from 1875. The company would be incorporated in 1928, and is nowadays part of DEME as Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon. In 1880 the contractors Nicolaas van Haaren (1835–1904) and Hendrik-Willem Ackermans (1855–1945) established a gravel winning and dredging business in the Belgian city of Antwerp. It was incorporated on 30 December 1924 and remained the core asset of what is nowadays the Belgian investment company Ackermans & van Haaren, one of the two shareholders of DEME. Maintenance dredging on the Scheldt river was also carried out by Société Générale de Dragage/Algemene Baggermaatschappij (SGD). This company was established on 5 April 1930 with the De Cloedt family and the Belgian construction and publicly listed company CFE as its shareholders. However, SGD had older roots dating back to the construction of the port of Zeebrugge (inaugurated in 1907).

In the 1970s a major consolidation movement happened in the dredging industry in Europe. In 25 years, the number of European dredging companies dropped from fourteen in 1970 to six by the turn of the century.[3] On 27 November 1974 the dredging division of Ackermans & van Haaren merged with Société Générale de Dragage – creating synergies that proved to be much welcome in the booming markets of the Middle East after the 1973 oil shock. Together they formed Dredging International.

After the global crisis in the dredging business during the 1980s had been resolved, Dredging International and Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon teamed up to become DEME on 10 April 1991. In 2000 the De Cloedt family was bought out by the other shareholders. By 2010 Dredging International and Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon are two DEME operating companies.

The founding companies of DEME have always been active both on their first home market Belgium and abroad. Total volume dredged by Ackermans & van Haaren between 1888 and 1967, both in Belgium and abroad has been calculated at 593,254,000 m3 – without counting the 8,548,000 m3 of rock that was removed and some 1,941,000 m3 of civil constructions and bank protection.[3] Before the First World War, Ackermans & van Haaren was involved in port construction and dredging in France, Russia, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Since the early 1950s Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon and Société Générale de Dragage became involved in dredging and reclamation projects all over the world.


DEME presents itself under a unified image and the single tagline: Creating Land for the Future. The company colours are blue and green, emphasizing the work on the edge between water (blue) and land (green). The corporate logo features the cutter head of a cutter-suction dredger (CSD), underlined with a blue and green bar. The group is made up of 71 different companies, subsidiaries, branches and representative offices worldwide.[2] At the end of 2009 DEME employed some 3,750 people.[2] In 2009 the group realized a turnover of €1.4 billion[12] and an all-time-high operational cashflow of 21.8 per cent in the second semester.[13] After nine months in 2010, turnover stood at €1.315 billion (vs. €1.008 billion on the corresponding moment in 2009).[14] On 30 September 2010 the orders on hand were valued at €2.122 billion, as compared with €2.073 billion on 30 June[15] In developing its activities, DEME applies a business partnering philosophy that aims at creating a win-win situation with strong local partners.[16] In 2009 DEME companies were operating in 42 countries.[2]


DEME has a fleet of almost 300 vessels, among which over 80 main dredging and hydraulic engineering vessels.[2] At the end of 2009 DEME owned and operated 25 trailing suction hopper dredgers (TSHDs such as the Jade River) with a capacity from 1,635 to 30,000 m3. They include the 24,130 m3 Pearl River[17][18] which was the first megatrailer in the world when she was commissioned in 1994. At the same date the group owned and operated 20 cutter suction dredgers (CSD's), whose installed power is between 441 kW and 28,200 kW. The CSD fleet includes the world's heaviest self-propelled and ocean-going rock breaker, the 28,200 kW d'Artagnan.[17][19] d'Artagnan was built for DEME's French subsidiary Société de Dragage International (SDI) and launched in 2005. In July 2010 a model of CSD d'Artagnan was handed over to the Panama Canal Authority.[20][21] Further plant includes a variety of backhoe dredgers (a.o. the 2,600 kW Pinocchio);[17][22] lifting vessels (a.o. the 3,300 tons Rambiz);[23] self-elevating drilling platforms (a.o. the 1,600 tons Goliath[24][25] fallpipe vessels (a.o. the 19,000 tons Flintstone);[26][27] and auxiliary equipment. In 2010 DEME appointed Wilhelmsen Ships Service as supplier for maintenance products and technical gases globally.[28]

Both in the Russian Revolution (1917) and in the Second World War almost the complete fleets of respectively Ackermans & van Haaren and Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon were destroyed or lost.[11]

Operating companies

Operating companies of DEME step forward under the common DEME flag, colours and tagline. However, they keep their own identity, operational autonomy, and legal structure. Some of the operating companies of DEME include:

Dredging International

Dredging International is one of the major operating companies of DEME and focuses on the core activities of the group: capital and maintenance dredging; deepening and maintaining navigation channels; major port development; reclamation of new industrial or residential areas, artificial islands, beaches and coastal protection. Its roots are in the Antwerp area of Belgium where its constituent companies began capital and maintenance dredging on the Schelde at the end of the 19th century. Dredging International has subsidiaries, branches and representative offices in Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Russia and East Europe, Mexico, Uruguay, India, Nigeria, Bahrain, Panama, Venezuela, Singapore, Australia, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brazil, Ghana, Luxembourg, Finland, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Latvia. Dredging International is an associated company in Middle East Dredging Company QSC (MEDCO).[29]

Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon

Like its sister company Dredging International, Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon is focused on the core activities of the DEME group: capital and maintenance dredging; deepening and maintaining navigation channels; major port development; reclamation of new industrial or residential areas, artificial islands, beaches and coastal protection. The difference is mainly historical and geographical. Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon started its business with capital and maintenance dredging in the coastal approaches of Belgium. However, nowadays Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon are operating globally with assignments on all continents. Since 2000 the De Cloedt family is no longer a shareholder in Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon.

Tideway Offshore Solutions

Tideway is the offshore division of DEME and was established in 1991. Based in Breda, Netherlands, the company is a full-service provider for the oil & gas industry.[30][31] Tideway is operating worldwide, with activities that include the construction of landfalls and outfalls[32] for pipeline transport[33] and high-voltage power cables;[34] preparation of the seabed; offshore trench dredging and backfilling; precision rock placement in depths to 987 m.[35] Tideway operates dynamic positioning (D.P.) fall pipe vessels such as the 12,000 tons Rollingstone[36] and the 19,000 tons Seahorse.[37] The 19,000 tons flagship Flintstone[38] was launched in Singapore on 28 April 2010 and is equipped with dynamic positioning (DP2) and an active heave compensator remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV). The latter enables precision stone dumping in depths to 2,000 m.[39]

DEME Environmental Contractors (DEC)

DEME Environmental Contractors (DEC) was incorporated in 1999 as a merger of various DEME-companies that were established in the 1980s: NV Soils was a specialised company for soil washing and in-situ soil remediation techniques; NV Silt had developed expertise in silt recycling and sludge treatment; and NV Bitumar focused on bituminous materials for hydraulic engineering and fibrous stone asphalt for coastal engineering works. DEC is specialised in groundwater- and soil remediation; sediment treatment; recycling and landfill techniques; environmental dredging; and the redevelopment of brownfields. DEC owns and operates seven permitted soil- and sediment recycling centres in Belgium, including in the ports of Antwerpen, Zeebrugge and Ghent.[40] In legal terms, DEME Environmental Contractors (DEC) is part of DEME-controlled Ecoterres Holding,[41] in which all environmental activities of DEME are brought together. Other DEME-environmental companies under Ecoterres Holding include de Vries & van de Wiel, with activities in the Netherlands; Ecoterres which is based in the Walloon part of Belgium; and Extract-Ecoterres which focuses on France. Two new DEC-subsidiaries were established in October 2010:[42] Purazur clusters existing activities in the field of water treatment and focuses on industrial wastewater treatment in the first place; Terrenata is active in purchasing, remediation and redevelopment of so-called brownfield land. In the latter respect, Terrenata is business partnering with BPI and Extensa, the project development companies of the two DEME shareholders.


GeoSea is a DEME company that specializes in the installation of offshore structures such as an offshore windfarm or a jetty foundation; rock socketing; drilling and hammering of large-diameter piles; geotechnical investigation at large depth. The company was established in 2005, when various disciplines within DEME were brought together to become a new legal entity. As a geotechnical offshore contractor, GeoSea typically operates from proprietary large jack-up platforms, such as Zeebouwer,[43] Vagant,[44] Buzzard"[45] and Goliath.[25] GeoSea has a global scope, with activities and projects executed in a.o. Great-Britain,[46] Germany,[47] Mexico,[48] Oman,[49] Australia.[50] In 2010 GeoSea was executing installation works on the offshore Thorntonbank Wind Farm (Belgium);[51] Alpha Ventus Offshore Wind Farm (Borkum, Germany);[47][52] Walney and Ormonde (Irish Sea).[46][53]


DEME participates in several companies that are co-owned with partner companies. Middle East Dredging Company (MEDCO)[29] is a partnership of DEME with the Qatari United Development Company (UDC) and the Qatari government. MEDCO focuses on dredging and land reclamation projects in the Gulf. In 2004 International Seaport Dredging (ISD) was incorporated under Indian law as a private joint stock company together with Larsen & Toubro. ISD focuses on port development and land reclamation in India.[54] Scaldis Salvage & Marine Contractors was formally established in 1995, following a joint venture with the same partners since June 1981. Scaldis is involved with wreck removal and heavy lifting.[55] DEME has a stake of 55 per cent in Scaldis.[2] Widely publicized achievements of Scaldis include the salvage of the French freighter Mont Louis in 1985;[56] the raising of the Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987;[57][58] and the salvage of the MV Tricolor car carrier off Dunkirk, following a 2002 collision at sea.[59][60] DEME is also a founding member of C-Power, the company that builds the Thorntonbank Wind Farm[51] off the Belgian port of Oostende.

Further diversification

DEME Blue Energy (DBE)

Against the background of its long experience with ocean engineering and the development of renewable energy sources, DEME established a fully owned new company in early 2010 which is called DEME Blue Energy.[61] DBE focuses on wave energy and tidal energy, including the development of appropriate technology and prototype equipment that could be used to generate electricity.[62] In 2010 a consortium of industrial partners, named Flanders Electricity from the Sea (FlanSea), submitted a research project for developing a wave energy converter (WEC) which will undergo an instrumented test in the summer of 2012. DEME Blue Energy is a member of the FlanSea consortium, together with Ghent University,[63] the port of Oostende,[64] and others. If successful, the new technology could be installed in between the offshore wind turbines of the Thorntonbank Wind Farm, creating a synergy between two different sources of renewable energy.[65] In September 2010 the Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT)[66] granted a €2.4 million subsidy for the FlanSea project. The FlanSea wave energy converter will be a so-called point absorber, modelled after the B1-device off Southeast Norway[67] which was developed under the European funded SEEWEC project,[68] co-ordinated by Prof. dr. ir. Julien De Rouck of the Department of Coastal Engineering at Ghent University, Belgium.[69] Besides the FlanSea project, DEME Blue Energy is also involved in other initiatives. DEME Blue Energy is a founding member of Friends of the Supergrid,[70] established in London on 8 March 2010 with the objective to help develop a pan-European offshore super grid for renewable energy.[71] DEME Blue Energy is also a partner and shareholder in Renewable Energy Base Oostende (REBO),[72] founded on 28 October 2010 for servicing offshore wind farms in Northwest Europe.[73]

Board of Directors and Management Committee

At the end of 2009 the DEME Board of Directors[2] was composed of:

Luc BertrandChairman of the Board of Directors
Renaud BentégeatChairman of the Management Committee
Philippe Delaunois
Lode Franken
Werner Poot
Jan Suykens
Marc Stordiau

At the end of 2009 the DEME Management Committee[2] was composed of:

Alain BernardChief Executive Officer (CEO)
Theo Van De KerckhoveChief Operating Officer (COO)
Philip HermansArea Director Americas – Oceania – Asia; General Manager Dredging International
Christian Van MeerbeeckChief Legal Officer (CLO)
Eric TancréArea Director North Europe
Martin OckierArea Director Benelux
Marc MaesChief Financial Officer (CFO)
Dirk PoppeArea Director Middle, Eastern Europe and Russia
Harry MommensHuman Resources Manager
Pierre PotvliegeArea Director Indian Subcontinent
Pierre CatteauArea Director Mediterranean
Bernard PaquotArea Director Middle East


In the past decades DEME activities have significantly diversified.[74] New businesses were developed such as soil remediation; silt recycling; offshore services for the oil & gas industry; fluvial & marine aggregates; installation of near- and farshore wind farms; marine salvage, wreck removal and heavy lifting; 'tidal' blue energy; financial engineering etc. In 2009 capital and maintenance dredging represented 67 per cent of consolidated turnover. Assignments in European Union countries stood for 35 per cent of consolidated turnover, with 18 per cent in Africa and 13 per cent in Asia.[2]

Historic realizations

For more than a century and up to the current days, DEME-companies have been involved in capital and maintenance dredging in the maritime approaches to the Belgian coastal ports as well as the fairway between Vlissingen and Antwerp. Between 1894 and 1911 Ackermans & van Haaren dredged some 25 million m3 when deepening the Belgian and Dutch stretches of the Western Scheldt, a volume which is considered very impressive[3] given the technical plant available at the time. After the Second World War, DEME-companies were closely involved in the extension of the port of Antwerp, both on the right bank of the Schelde during the major ten-year infrastructure programme (1956–1967) as with the later development of a completely new port area on the left bank. In the Port of Antwerp DEME built the 500 × 68 m Berendrecht Lock, the largest one in the world,[75] which was completed in 1989. In the 1970s and 1980s several DEME companies took the lead in building the outer port of Zeebrugge.

From the very early days, DEME companies have worked in the far abroad. As from 1903, Ackermans & van Haaren almost continuously executed infrastructure projects in several countries of Latin America. For ten years, the company was building and expanding the port of Rosario (Santa Fe) in Argentina. In 1912, total volume handled at Rosario was estimated at 9.5 million m3 of dredging and 5.7 million m3 of reclamation.[3] Other dredging works in Argentina in those years were executed at La Plata, Bahía Blanca, Puerto Belgrano, San Nicolas, Ensenada, Sorento, Quequén, the Paraná Delta, the Matschwitz canal, a.o. From 1910 till 1913 Ackermans & van Haaren built a 1150 m long tunnel in Buenos Aires, supplying water from the Rio de la Plata. Other Latin American countries where Ackermans & van Haaren was active before the First World War include Uruguay, where the company built the port of Montevideo and carried out gravel dredging near Colón, and Brazil where 8.5 million m3 were dredged in the port of Rio Grande do Sul between 1908 and 1916.)[3]

In the Russian town of Saint Petersburg Ackermans & van Haaren built the military harbour, known as Emperor Peter the Great, between 1913 and 1917. In 1916 the company started construction of docks for the Russian navy at Sveaborg near Helsingfors, currently named Helsinki, the capital of Finland. In the Interbellum DEME-companies built the new Baltic port of Gdynia for which a total of 36 million m3 was dredged in what Richardson[3] calls "quite heroic circumstances". In the mid-1930s DEME-companies were at work in the Persian port of Now-Chahr and in Phnom Penh, the capital of then French protectorate of Cambodia. where Ackermans & van Haaren's flagship Antwerpen III was assigned for dredging the Mekong river.

Richardson[3] (page 14) claims "the maritime history of France may be written by way of the involvement of Ackermans & van Haaren in building and dredging its Atlantic and Mediterranean ports." In particular, DEME-companies have been involved in all successive phases of the extension of the Port of Le Havre since 1904 – the latest phase being Le Havre Port 2000.

Another DEME operating company, Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon, has been involved for more than one century with dredging the maritime access channels to the Belgian sea ports. Among the company's early assignments in Asia, three projects stand out: construction of the port of Bluff on New Zealand's South Island between October 1956 and October 1960 (in a joint-venture with another constituent company of DEME, Société Générale de Dragage/Algemene Baggermaarschappij);[11] the very first reclamation in Malaysia's Port Klang; and the 1969–1970 extension of the first runway on Kingsford-Smith Airport in Sydney (In 1994 DEME also built the parallel runway, which equally extends on reclaimed land in Botany Bay).

Orders in the 2000s

In the first decade of the 21st century global contracting at DEME stood at record levels.[2] Driven by the constant need for new infrastructure, population growth, hunger for energy, climate change, expanding maritime trade, further containerisation and a dramatic increase of scale – both in navigation and port facilities, the demand for capital and maintenance dredging, land reclamation and port construction on the five continents generated ocean engineering projects on an unsurpassed scale.

DEME continued maintenance dredging throughout the decade in the Schelde access channel to Antwerp; the North Sea access lanes to the Belgian sea ports; the Elbe river between Cuxhaven and Hamburg in Germany; the Orinoco river in Venezuela; the mouths of the Niger Delta in Nigeria, a.o.

On the five continents, the company was active with capital dredging, land reclamation and port construction. In France, DEME companies completed the Port 2000[76] extension project in the Port of Le Havre.[77] The €218 million contract involved a total dredged volume of over 45 million m3; construction of 10 km of breakwaters; and 78 ha of land reclamation. Marine works were executed in tides of up to 8 m and strong currents of up to 5 knots.[78] On the Mediterranean coast of France, DEME finished the Fos2XL extension[79] at Fos-sur-Mer. The €400 million contract was awarded by the Port of Marseille Authority (PMA)[80] to a consortium in which DEME-companies carried out the dredging and marine works.

DEME executed other major port construction and extension projects in the decade. In Vuosaari,[81] Finland, the company was involved in dredging hard rock for the construction of a new container terminal. In Sepetiba[82] and Itaguaí,[83] both in Brazil, DEME's brand-new TSHD Breydel dredged the access channel and a basin for port extensions. In Dhamra[84] in the state of Orissa on the eastern coast of India, DEME deepened a 19 km long access channel and reclaimed 130ha for a new port,[85] assigning a.o. a water injection dredger. The €100 million contract in Dhamra was executed by International Seaport Dredging (ISD), in which DEME is partnering with the Indian company Larsen & Toubro. Since 2005 and into the next decade, DEME has been active in four successive phases with construction of the Russian port of Ust-Luga[86] at 120 km west of Saint Petersburg.[87] Ust-Luga will be the final point of the Second Baltic Pipeline. On a visit at Ust-Luga in January 2006, then Russian president Vladimir Putin declared that the new port was "extremely important for us. It is one of the largest infrastructure projects of the decade."[88]

In the Gulf state of Qatar DEME delivered the artificial island Pearl of the Gulf ahead of schedule. This project, designed in the form of a seahorse, called for the excavation of approximately 18 million m3 of material, reclamation of an area of approximately 4.2 million m², around 180,000 m3 of concrete quay walls, and approximately 45 linear kilometers of rock revetment and sandy beaches. The residential and touristic development project takes into account the future sea level rise for one hundred years to come.[89] Together with its partners United Development Company (UDC) and the Qatari government, since 2004 working together in Middle East Dredging Company (QDC, later MedCo), DEME created a 22 km² platform for the new Doha airport, which required 62 million m3 of sand and rock to be removed of which about half was reclaimed from the sea.[90]

On 4 April 2008 the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)[91] awarded the contract to dredge the Pacific sea entrance of the Panama Canal to DEME operating company Dredging International.[92] The USD177.5 million project widened the Canal's 14 km approach-, access- and navigation channels to a minimum of 218m and deepened them to a maximum level of minus 15.5m. DEME removed a total of 9.07 million m3, including an important volume of hard rock that was broken up with drilling and blasting. Dredging operations took place in the midst of transiting traffic and close to the intensive port activity at Baldoa and Rodman. A follow-on contract involved dredging and deepening at the Rodman quay of PSA Panama International Terminal.[93] In the frame of ACP's Fresh Water Dredging and Excavation Project for the Canal Expansion, Panama Canal Authority further awarded a USD 40 million contract to DEME for widening and deepening the existing navigational channel by dredging some 4.6 million m3 in the northernmost reaches of the Gatun Lake.[94]

In the decade, offshore assignments by Tideway Offshore Contractors included trench dredging, construction of landfalls, and protection and stabilisation of the Enagás submarine Balearic gas pipeline between the Spanish city of Denia and the Balearic Islands of Ibiza and Mallorca, where a depth record was achieved at minus 987m.[95] Tideway had established an earlier depth record in 2000, when stone placement was carried out at a depth of minus 780m at the Malampaya development project in the Philippines. With proprietary fall pipe vessels, Tideway was continuously involved in rock placement and protection works for the oil industry in North Sea oil projects. Media reported other assignments, such as the Encana Deep Panuke project in Nova Scotia, Canada, and the P9 project for the Pluto LNG project at Woodside, Australia.[96] At the end of 2007 Tideway completed installation of the 580 km HVDC submarine power cable known as NorNed, which links the electricity grids of Norway and the Netherlands.[32]

DEME companies executed the full range of marine works during construction of the first phase of C- Power's Thorntonbank Wind Farm,[51][97] including offshore soil investigation, transport and placement of the gravity-based structures, erosion protection, cable-laying, directional drilling, a.o.[98] DEME controlled Scaldis Salvage & Marine Contractors was involved in the successful wreck removal of the MV Tricolor car carrier, lost at sea off Dunkirk[59]

In the field of environmental remediation assignments, DEME Environmental Contractors (DEC) in its home country Belgium executed the remediation of acid tar basins for Total in Ertvelde;[99] the remediation of the former Carcoke Coking Works site in Zeebrugge; and the remediation and redevelopment of the 42ha brownfield 't Eilandje in Zwijnaarde.[100] Abroad, DEME Environmental Contractors were involved in the remediation works at the cyanide infested former Gas Works site in Dublin Dockland, Ireland;[101] at the Avenue Coking Works site near Chesterfield, UK;[102] and the decontamination of the London Olympics 2012 site in Stratford.[103] In the 2000s DEME Environmental Contractors (DEC) were also active in Sweden with cleaning-up the mercury contamination in the Svartsjö lakes near Hultsfred; removing mercury and dioxine from a site in Bengtsfors; and further in Favernik, Söderhamn and Gävle.[104]

Orders in 2010

On 16 March 2010 DEME started major dredging works for DP World's London Gateway,[17] the UK's new deep sea port and logistics park at 25 miles east of Central London on the river Thames.[105][106][107] DEME is dredging a 300m wide channel to a depth between 14.6m and 16.5m while the estuary is currently around 11m deep.[108] Over a distance of 100 km to the sea some 29 million m3 will be dredged; in addition DEME is reclaiming 18 million m3 in the Thames. The 400 million pound contract has to be finished by mid-2014. For the civilian works, DEME is teaming with British contractor Laing O'Rourke.[109]

With the formal delivery on 31 March 2010, DEME completed the widening and deepening works in the port of Durban, South Africa that had begun in mid-2007.[17][110] The existing northern breakwater was demolished and rebuilt; the existing southern breakwater was strengthened; the port entrance channel was widened from 120m to 220m; and deepened from 12.8m to 19m in the outer channel and 17m in the inner port. A total of more than 10 million m3 of material was dredged, part of which was used for the foundation and reinforcement of the breakwaters. Apart from the mega-dipper Pinocchio and two split barges, DEME assigned the trailing suction hopper dredgers Marieke, Krankeloon, Orwell and Pallieter to the €220 million project. DEME was the managing partner in a consortium that included South African civilian contractor Group Five.[111]

In the Middle East DEME is executing the dredging and reclamation package for the Ruwais Refinery Expansion project of Takreer in Abu Dhabi. The work was awarded to Dredging International in May 2009 and started on 7 June 2009. A total of 42 million m3 is being dredged, pumped and reclaimed by heavy-duty cutter suction dredger Al Mahar and trailing suction hopper dredgers.[112]

In Latin America DEME is (a.o.) active in a major remediation project in the Port of Santos, Brazil. The €75 million turnkey project calls for the remediation of the illegal dump site Lixao da Alemoa at the edge of a bay.[113] A total of 680.000 m3 of domestic waste and industrial waste are being processed on an area covering 45 ha, where Brasil Terminal Portuario is building a container terminal. The major part of it will be recycled and reused; only a fraction of what is left over, between 10.000 and 50.000 m3, will have to be stored. DEME executes this contract through its subsidiary DEME Environmental Contractors (DEC), which also arranged project financing. The Santos contract was said to be "a breakthrough for DEME in Latin America.[114] During a princely mission to Brazil, Belgian crown prince Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant visited the DEC turnkey project in Santos.[115]

Together with its partner Larsen & Toubro in International Seaport Dredging (ISD), DEME in 2010 finished deepening of a 10 km access channel, turning basin and berthing foreground in the port of Kakinada on the eastern coast of India, state of Andhra Pradesh.[116] Dredging a total of 6 million m3 deepened the sea port from minus 11.5m to a depth between minus 13.5 and minus 14.5m. A second contract for dredging another 5 million m3 was to be completed by March 2011. Since 1999 DEME has already executed several capital dredging campaigns at Kakinada, both directly.[117] and through International Seaport Dredging (ISD).[118]

On 18 August 2010 DEME was awarded a €105 million contract for dredging and reclamation works to prepare the Imeretinskaya lowland area at Sochi, Russia, where the Olympic Village for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be built.[119] In an execution period of maximum 14 months, a total of 8 million m3 sand must be dredged and transported over a distance of 120 km to reclaim a 412ha swamp area to 2.5m above the Black Sea zero level. DEME has assigned its TSHDs Brabo and Nile River to the Sochi project.[120]

In Hayle, off the coast of Cornwall, UK, DEME subsidiary Tideway Offshore Contractors was involved in precision rock placement for protection of the wave hub[121] and a 16 km power cable, linking the tidal energy park with land. Tideway's fall pipe vessel Rollingstone placed some 100.000 tons at a depth between 25m and 35m by way of digital terrain modelling and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).[122]

Investment programme

Between 2002 and 2007, ten major dredgers were added to the DEME fleet. This included the world's largest heavy-duty seagoing cutter suction dredger, the 28,000 kW d'Artagnan.[123] With the construction of the Pearl River in 1994, DEME became a trendsetter for what is now "considered as the first 'jumbo' trailer suction dredger"[124] On August 1, 2002, the enlargement of Pearl River was started in Singapore. In the process the hopper capacity of Pearl River was increased from 17,000 m3 to 24,146 m3. Moreover, a large deep dredging installation for the Pearl River was built in, which allows this jumbo trailer to dredge to depths of 120 m.

As of 2010, DEME invests some €200 million per year in construction of new vessels.[13] Under the investment programme from 2008–2012, some fifteen major vessels were launched at an estimated value of €1.26 billion.[125][126] By the end of 2010, seven had already been launched; eight vessels were under construction. The latter included the 11,650 m3 trailing suction hopper dredger Breughel and the 28,000 kW cutter suction dredger Ambiorix, a sister ship of d'Artagnan. Other ships commissioned by 2012 were the 5,000 m3 gravel dredger Victor Horta; the 19,000 tons fallpipe vessel Flintstone; the self-propelled seagoing dredgers Al Jarraf[127] and Amazone, each with a total installed power of 12,860 kW; the mega-trailer Congo River[128] which has a hopper capacity of 30,000 tonnes; and the jack-up Neptune.

A further fleet investment is scheduled to take place in the late 2010s, beginning with dredgers Minerva and Scheldt River, which were delivered in 2017, followed by Spartacus, the largest and most powerful cutter suction dredger in the world, in 2019, and two trailing suction hopper dredgers and two split barges in 2020.[129]


According to Mort J. Richardson in The Dynamics of Dredging[3] Ackermans & van Haaren held a leading position in technological innovation, from the very beginning. In 1895 Ackermans & van Haaren was at the cradle of hydraulic dredging techniques and successfully designed a suction dredger, capable of unloading by its own. In the same year, a first vessel of that type was built and christended as Schelde II. Société Générale de Dragage/Algemene Baggermaatschappij (SGD) realized the very first application of a submersible pump in dredging, when such a device was developed and fixed on the drag head of TSHD Maas.[130] At the time of her commissioning in September 1994 DEME's 17,000 m3 flagship Pearl River became, according to Richardson (p. 11),[3] "the very first suction hopper dredge of a completely new generation – featuring twice as much capacity as its biggest successor." In 2005 DEME's French subsidiary Société de Dragage International (SDI) launched the world's largest heavy-duty and ocean-going cutter suction dredger d'Artagnan (28,200 kW installed power).[17][131]

Innovative methods that are aiming at improving the dredging process, include DEME's proprietary DRACULA technique which uses high-pressure waterjets to excavate seabed material.[132] DRACULA is an acronym for "Dredging, And Cutting Using Liquid Action". Various improvements of navigation- and dredging software have led DEME to develop and practise the one man-operated bridge.[133] An innovative purpose built drill barge with ten drilling towers, called Yuan Dong 007, was specifically designed and constructed for the 2009 expansion project of the Panama Canal. The performance and the efficiency of the Hong Kong built[134] drill barge, was said to have been DEME's secret weapon and a decisive factor in winning the 2008 contract for deepening and widening of the Pacific side of the Canal.[135]


DEME is owned, on a 50/50 base, by two publicly listed companies, quoted on the Euronext Brussels exchange: the investment company Ackermans & van Haaren and CFE. The latter is a daughter of the French construction group Vinci. Ackermans & van Haaren and CFE have concluded a shareholders agreement which was renewed for a new term of five years on 6 March 2007.[136]


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