Session 5 of the two-day Offshore Support Journal Middle East Virtual Conference focused on new design concepts and innovative technology solutions
Great Waters Maritime managing director and naval architect Ashik Subahani provided a detailed introduction to the factors driving current OSV designs.
He said vessel designers prefer hull forms with improved motion characteristics such as bulbous bows or Ulstein’s patented X-bow system. Designs must consider the cargo being transferred from the ship to the rig and cargo pumps vary depending on the fluid to be pumped.
With increasing automation and digitalisation, modern OSVs call for state-of-the-art navigation and communications equipment – including X- and S-band radars, differential GPS (DGPS), an emergency position indicating radio beacon and the global maritime distress and safety system.
He said designers must work within the regulatory regime – the special purpose ships code affects designs with a major challenge being a vessel’s stability behaviour. Due to standard layouts, it can be difficult for OSVs to meet the standards for stability required in the event of damage to the hull. Further, dynamic positioning requirements have to be embedded into the design of OSVs.
Mr Subahani said some platform supply vessels use external firefighting and oil recovery systems, but such measures have to be considered at the design stage as some oil companies prefer to use dedicated vessels instead of an ‘all-in-one’ approach.
The location of offshore wind turbines in severe sea state conditions calls for seakeeping studies based on human habitability which affects propulsion systems. Designers may have to modify hull forms or add stabilisation systems such as fins or gyro systems.
Mr Subahani said designers would also be wise to provide additional accommodation for OSVs operating on offshore wind facilities, as such vessels typically visit many more platforms than an OSV operating in the oil and gas sector.
ABS director of regional business development in the Middle East and Africa, Chris Greenwood spoke about the advances made in condition-based maintenance systems the company offers.
This risk-based model helps reduce downtime, he said. The basis of the approach is remote surveys which have gained ground in the industry as a result of the global pandemic limiting in-person surveys. ABS currently provides three classes of remote surveys – class, statutory and occasional surveys – and provides guidance notes for best practices for different pilot-operated robotic technologies used in remote surveys.
The company is also developing AI-based image recognition software for coating inspections. A prototype screening tool will use AI to recognise and assess corrosion damage. 3D scanning helps in thickness gauging allowing ABS to use the results in the Class decision process. High-speed data capture enables faster data capture with an accuracy equivalent to manual measurements.
“Ultimately, we are looking to transform data into insights” said Mr Greenwood. “We can take input, whether it is data from your asset, machinery, navigatory or meteorological data, process that either by an algogrithm, AI or number crunching, and output that data into a format we can ultiise in the class decision making process.”
ABS is also conducting a pilot programme aboard P&O Maritime’s OSV, DMS Courageous as P&O Maritime plans to move from a calender-based maintenance approach towards a condition-based classification approach.
DNV GL’s projections show that oil demand as a marine fuel has peaked. Fewer than 1% of the global fleet runs on alternative fuel but 10% of the orderbook for newbuildings are expected to run on alternative fuels. DNV GL business development manager for maritime, Christos Chryssakis and segment director for OSVs and special ships Arnstein Eknes surveyed the alternative fuels scene.
Mr Eknes said OSVs have proven to be just as useful in the renewable sector as in the tradition oil and gas sector. More OSVs are undergoing electrification and hybridisation and are among the first takers in the alternative fuel market. Most battery systems on OSVs are conversions – a trend DNV GL predicts will continue in the coming years.
OSV design is not expected to become a victim of short-termism by way of short-term designs, he said. Instead, Mr Eknes foresees a future where vessels are built to be upgraded “so that you build version 1.0 but after three, four or five years you have version 2.7 or something like that. With new capabilities we have to be more sustainable.”
Mr Eknes said “offshore vessels are perfectly tuned to test new technology” and while there is no silver bullet as far as future fuels go, the industry will soon see pilot projects involving ammonia, fuel cells and liquid and organic hydrogen.
The company expects natural gas use to grow into the 2030s and remain relatively stable up to 2050. While LNG and batteries dominate, the share of ammonia and hydrogen continues to grow. Mr Chryssakis said the number of vessels running on LNG is expected to double in the next two to three years, but the fuel consumption of these same vessels will increase “four to five times” as they include larger oceangoing vessels in their ranks. This will help increase LNG bunkering infrastructure.
Connectivity was earlier cited as the biggest barrier to digitalisation and Inmarsat’s findings revealed that an inability to share data in real time is a leading obstacle to IoT adoption.
“Connectivity in the OSV sector is now mission critical” explained Inmarsat sector development director Audra Drablos. Ms Drablos said the company has seen a 50% increase in data traffic and a 70% increase in voice calls – driven mainly by crew usage – during the global pandemic.
Ultimately, she said vessel owners find it difficult to pinpoint what technology they should be using. “They’ve relied on the traditional methods of transferring data offshore and now they have to look at new solutions to enable massive data transfer and it’s also about transferring it in real time.”
By enabling onboard data services such as Fleet Xpress and Fleet Data for third-party service providers and operators, Inmarsat hopes to increase IoT adoption. Ms Drablos cited the case of an (unnamed) customer where Inmarsat used digital twin technology in co-operation with Wärtsilä and We4Sea to help reduce fuel consumption.
Offshore energy projects and vessel demand will be discussed in depth during Riviera’s Offshore Support Journal, Asia virtual conference on 2-3 December - use this link for more details and to register for this key industry event