Offshore business for German company thrives during a bust

As some exhibitors waited for oil and gas professionals to stop by their booths at the Offshore Technology Conference this week, one German company, ELA Container, found that it had all the business it wanted.

ELA Container, which designs and builds offshore living quarters, found that business has surged during the oil downturn, when offshore project managers have time to shop for smaller and cheaper living arrangements for offshore crews, said Katharina Pleus, a marketer for ELA.

The company made its OTC debut in 2016 — when attendance suffered in the wake of plunging oil prices — and returned this year, even as the industry struggles to recover. The company just opened a Houston branch, Pleus said.

“This is the right time to step into the market,” said Pleus. “Last time was a bad year, but it was busy for us.”

The company’s exhibit at NRG Park featured two 20 foot by 8 foot living containers, stacked on top of each other. They look like standard shipping containers but are built to offshore requirements, reinforced with several millimeters of steel and fire resistant components. (The containers will withstand up to 60 minutes of flame and heat, Pleus said.)

A container with two beds, each in a separate room and joined by a bathroom, costs $90,000. A simple empty container costs around $15,000. They are cheaper, narrower and shorter than the typical containers made in the U.S., Pleus added.