Harvey Gulf International Marine sold eight offshore tugs to Signet Maritime back in May. The sale allows New Orleans-based Harvey Gulf to concentrate on its core business of offshore service vessels.

“Harvey is building a portfolio to take the company public at some point,” said Richard Sanchez, senior marine specialist/marine editor, IHS Energy|Petrodata Marine. “I think it makes a lot of sense. My feeling is that straight up oilfield support is more lucrative than the towing stuff.”

New York-based Jordan Company, a middle-market private equity firm, is Harvey Gulf's majority owner. The company signed a $500 million deal with Shane Guidry and his brother Shawn in 2008 for a 76% interest in the company.

Sanchez said that Shane Guidry, Harvey Gulf’s chairman and CEO, decided several years ago to go after the small to medium platform supply vessel market in the Gulf. “If you look at the small to medium boat market, while it seems large and oversupplied, that’s only the case if you count all the boats. If your clients are saying they only want the newest boats with the latest technology, then I think you’re shrinking that number to about 30 to 40 boats. So this is probably where [Harvey Gulf’s] angle is. Companies like Shell and BP have upped their requirements for boats they charter. They’re saying ‘We’re not just doing what’s required. We’re going above and beyond.’ So he’s tried to capture the small to medium high-tech boats that weren’t that old.”

Sanchez said it would not surprise him to see Harvey Gulf become more of an international player.

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.