MMH Malta Limited is the owner and operator of the Mediterranean
Maritime Hub – a port facility which is dedicated to the marine and oil and gas industries. In order to stay ahead of international competition, the Hub is focused on efficiency, industry best practice and harnessing new information technology capabilities to improve its operations and offer more efficient services to its client companies. The Hub is situated in the innermost part of the Valletta Port – a site of 170,000 square metres dedicated to offer port, logistical, technical, personnel and training services tailored to these industries.
an interview with Angelique Abela; Executive Chairperson, MMH Malta Ltd
MMH is spearheaded by Angelique Abela – an architect and civil engineer by profession, Angelique was ushered out of a rich career within Malta’s Property industry in 2012 to take the helm at MMH Malta Ltd. As the Executive Chairperson of MMH Malta Ltd, her primary focus is the overall direction, strategy and business development of the company and also has the responsibility of overseeing new projects being undertaken by the company.
Angelique is not alone in her mission. Both her siblings Louise Abela and Paul Abela jr. are fellow Directors in their company; run via a thorough management and operations personnel structure which hones and executes their objectives. “The Group benefits from a fully fledged board of directors which encompasses more than 200 years of entrepreneurship and experiences to great effect,” Angelique explains. Among the new projects Mediterranean Maritime Hub has undertaken is the
rehabilitation of the former Malta Shipbuilding site in the Grand Harbour into the Mediterranean Maritime Hub. The Hub, along with the ever-growing
MMH Academy, has today rightfully consolidated its international market
position as a centre of excellence for the marine, oil and gas industry in the
“We took over the site on the 1st August of 2016, so this year marks our sixth anniversary operating the facility.
We have completed Phase 1 of the project, which entailed a massive EUR
28 million investment from our side – making us the only private entity to
have invested such a sum of money in the Valletta Port area. We have a 65
year concession here and we are now embarking on Phase 2 of the project,”
Angelique explained. The Government’s tender process saw 6 bidders vying for the project. MMH was the only local entity bidding for the whole site and after an intensive 2-year due diligence, screening and negotiation process, it was awarded the tender and handed over the site in 2016.
Phase 1 of the
The site was previously known as the Malta Shipbuilding, but had been abandoned for about 20 years, prior to MMH taking it over. “We had a lot to do when we first started. The challenge was to be up and running seamlessly and smoothly, while simultaneously starting the entity from scratch,” Angelique explained, adding that MMH had been operating in the industry since 2001, under the name Ableman Oilfield Services Group. The company rebranded as Mediterranean Maritime Hub in 2017, to reflect the nature of the site and its operations. Angelique outlined the projects covered by MMH’s initial financial outlay. This included dredging of the public area, fairway and approaches, to increase the depth of the port to 10.5 metres; enabling the Hub to cater for the larger vessels that operate in the energy sector. The investment also upgraded and strengthened the pre-existing quaysides with an improved certified mooring system, capable of handling large vessels. “We constructed new quayside facilities and upgraded the onsite infrastructure, including underground services, paving works, upgrading of the buildings and new offices,” she said. MMH’s vision was to create a Hub of activity for the maritime and oil and gas sectors. “These industries are vast and require a range of support services. Therefore, our approach is highly inclusive and collaborative, working closely with all the operators in these sectors,” Angelique explained. The Hub works closely with a vast range of industry stakeholders, including shipping and yachting agents, as well as other subcontractors.
photo: Angelique Abela; Executive Chairperson, MMH Malta Ltd
“Some of our stakeholders actually have offices on site, using the Hub as their operational base. In fact, we have around 400 personnel (consisting of crew members, subcontractors and operators) and an additional 100 MMH personnel visiting the site on a daily basis to carry out works,” she added.
When the Mediterranean Maritime Hub first bid for the site project in 2014, the industry was going through a massive downturn. “This unprecedented turmoil changed the industry dramatically. Mergers and acquisitions took place during this time and pruned the industry, eliminating the weaker players. This also led to a drain in human resources within the industry, on a global level,” Angelique explained.
are vast and
require a range
This environment led MMH to diversify and provide facilities for the maritime industry, which overlap with the support services utilised by the energy sector. These services include supply vessels, anchor handlers as well as tug boats, which are all serviced by MMH. The Hub also supports the yachting industry with a vast array of repair and maintenance services for yachts and superyachts of up to 60 metres in length. “We have been providing services to the maritime industry for the past three
years and we have seen a steady growth in this niche, which comprises yachts and commercial vessels (including fishing vessels). We are now operating this sector at full capacity and the infrastructural capabilities of the Hub have attracted new work to Malta,” she added.
MMH has the infrastructural capability and the sheer experience to handle complex works within lean time frames.
photo: the ‘Mega Caravan’ was rigorously serviced by MMH together with its co-operating partners. Works, completed within 48 hours, included extensive welding at 40m above sea level
One of the Hub’s primary differentiating factors is that it is truly a hub for a range of service providers, supplying our international clients with a full-service offer and working in close collaboration with industry partners. “This is attracting new business to the destination, leaving a significant multiplier effect on the local economy,” she stressed, adding that at one point the Mediterranean Maritime Hub was servicing 200 yachts simultaneously, in Malta. Such is MMH’s growth in this sector that the Hub will next invest in refurbishing its crew quarters on site and providing additional facilities for sub-contractors.
The Mediterranean Maritime Hub also provides personnel, training and offshore services to the oil and gas energy sector, which is one of its main revenue streams. “The oil and gas industry is our core business. We have been serving this industry since 2001 and we are still going strong,” Angelique said. In fact, over the summer months the Hub carried out extensive works on a rig which will be offshore Malta. Previously, a large percentage of the industry’s workforce hailed from Ukraine, Russian and Poland, and staffing has thus been severely affected. “It takes years to train a person in this highly specialised industry from scratch.
the Hub have
work to Malta
photo: Angelique Abela, flanked by her siblings and fellow Directors Louisa Abela; Director of HR, and Paul Abela jr.; Director of Operations
(MMH) is truly a
hub for a range of
clients with a fullservice
working in close
The workforce shortage means that we need to attract the skilled technical
people previously working in the industry to join up again,” Angelique added. The Mediterranean Maritime Hub has been training personnel in this industry through the MMH Academy since its inception in 2014. The Academy holds specialised courses in Malta as well as Italy, tailored to electricians, drilling personnel and other employees working in the highly sensitive Atex environment. The Academy operates under industry accreditation bodies which are recognised worldwide, and “gathers a team of foreign specialised instructors
to offer unique hands-on training, which is not replicated anywhere
else on the Islands,” she explained. She added that the Hub is constantly
supporting both the end customer as well as the service provider via their service provisions, technical knowledge, and all-encompassing infrastructure; thus presenting a thorough, holistic, quality, efficient and cost effective solution to the maritime and oil and gas industries. “The investment in the infrastructure of the Hub is an investment in Malta, as the entire country’s economy benefits from the operations of the Hub,” Angelique concluded.
photo: Tug Boat Pilots taking an oil rig into the predestined offshore zone for MMH to carry out maintenance works