Following the capping of the Macondo well below the Deepwater Horizon in the fall of 2010, the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The moratorium had been in place since May of 2010, about a month after the worst oil spill in U.S. history occurred.
Though pulled in October 2010, many in the Gulf have complained that the moratorium was unofficially still in place based on the pace that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement was issuing drilling permits in the Gulf.
In the spring of this year, however, Edison Chouest Offshore’s Dino Chouest announced that part of his company’s multimillion-dollar newbuild program included OSVs targeted for the Gulf.
In late summer, aluminum boatbuilder Vic Breaux of Breaux Brothers Enterprises told me that oil and gas industry experts had told him that activity in the Gulf would pick up in the middle of 2012 and really get rolling in 2013.
Then last week, Hornbeck Offshore Services announced that its board of directors had approved a $720-million new vessel construction program. The first phase of the program would feature 16 300-class DP-2 new generation offshore supply vessels.
Delivery of the first 16 vessels to be constructed under this program is expected during 2013 and 2014, which should coincide with the delivery of approximately 145 incremental floaters and high-specification jack-up drilling rigs currently under construction worldwide, Hornbeck said.
Where these OSVs will be built has not been announced. But I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the first 16 OSVs will be built at both Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City, Fla., and LEEVAC Industries in Jennings, La. Hopefully, my guess won’t jinx these yards’ possibilities of getting the work. Based on past performances, I’m not exactly the “Psychic Hotline” of the workboat industry. Still….
“These new 300-class OSVs are particularly well-suited for the increased demands of deepwater and ultra-deepwater customers for high-specification vessels, while maintaining an overall size that maximizes efficiency from an operating cost perspective…the Company expects them to service the anticipated increase in deepwater and ultra-deepwater drilling activity in all three of the Company’s core geographic markets of the [Gulf of Mexico], Brazil and Mexico,” the announcement said.
This is good news, indeed.