In this month’s issue, we take our annual in-depth look at the U.S. Gulf. Last year, it was all about the post-Macondo rebound and more drilling opportunities in deepwater.
The Gulf rig market made up ground that was lost during the moratorium and returned early this year to pre-Macondo levels. In the last year, business continued to improve.
In his Vessel Report on offshore supply vessels (see page 52), Bruce Buls takes a look at what’s happening with OSVs and PSVs. He found two clear trends: the boats are bigger, and they’re increasingly going with diesel-electric propulsion.
Back in 1970s and ‘80s, it was all about 180′ OSVs. Now, many of the new designs are 300′ or more with 5,000-plus DWT capacities. It’s all about capacity — more room for liquid mud and more overall deadweight tonnage. A big reason that designers and builders have been able to increase capacity so dramatically is through the use of diesel-electric propulsion. By running cables instead of shafts, designers and builders can put the engines on the main deck level and free up more space down below for cargo.
Just take a look at some of the building going on. Hornbeck is building 20 new 300-class high-specification OSVs, 10 of which are 320′, 6,200-DWT vessels. Harvey Gulf had three 5,650-DWT vessels built at Eastern and will take delivery of a 302′ multipurpose light construction vessel in June. Harvey Gulf also plans to build two more U.S.-flag offshore construction vessels. The 328′ and 360′ vessels will be diesel-electric powered and equipped with 250T AHC knuckle-boom subsea cranes and work-class ROVs.
So why all the building? As Bill Pike pointed out in the cover story that begins on page 52, active deepwater rigs in the Gulf continues to increase, reaching 26 at the end of January. It’s estimated that another 12 to 15 deepwater rigs may enter the U.S. Gulf in the next 12 to 18 months.
The news has even gotten Tidewater’s attention. The former market leader in the Gulf, which now gets the majority of its revenue from overseas markets, now has three vessels under construction in the U.S. Gulf. Tidewater said they are bullish on the domestic market. We are too.