Speaking during session two of the Offshore Support Journal Subsea Conference in London, Ulstein Design & Solutions sales manager Nick Wessels said current demand projections reveal a shortage of heavy lift vessels through the 2020s
Covering guaranteed decommissioning hot spots and renewable projects slated for the next 20 years, Mr Wessels said Ulstein rested its case for a new heavy lift crane vessel with post-2020 lifting capacity above 2,000 tonnes, age and placement of vessels, and a 70% utilisation average on projects.
Decommissioning hot spots include the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico, both with thousands of platform structures and wells earmarked for decommissioning. Southeast Asia, too, is an emerging market for decommissioning projects, with numerous platforms and wells, he said.
With 2,000 decommissioning projects in place, assuming 14 days per platform removal and 70% utilisation, the work would keep five heavy lift vessels in business full-time in the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico alone for next 20 years, Mr Wessels said. That statistic does not include the southeast Asian market, he added.
In the renewables sector, offshore wind turbines are getting larger and becoming more plentiful, Mr Wessels said. More than 13,500 monopile installations are guaranteed in next decade (to 2030) – with most in Europe and Asia – and more than 10,000 more in planning stages, with the date yet to be decided. Assuming two days per monopile and 70% utilisation, the 13,500 monopiles that have an installation date set require at least 10 heavy lift vessels full time until 2030, according to Mr Wessels.
By 2022, Ulstein’s figures show a total of around 50 heavy lift units with lifting capacity above 2,000 tonnes, worldwide. Only 10 crane vessels remain with adequate lifting capacity for larger projects and half, Mr Wessels said, are in China.
Given the figures used, Mr Wessels said Ulstein saw a shortage of vessels in the market over the next decade.
While Ulstein acknowledged some of the shortage could be solved by converting units, it argued the strategy "may not be the best fit for future markets".
So Ulstein settled on specifications for its newbuilding design – the 30,000-dwt DP2 Ulstein HX 118 – including the capability to transport and install six 2,000 tonne monopiles or five 1,500 tonne jackets.
The vessel design measures in at 193.2 m long, 15.4 m tall, 49 m wide, with a 130-m deck length and a 99-m crane tower.
Ulstein said it was working with Huisman on the crane, with a main hoist of 3,000 tonnes at 30 m, 2,000 tonnes at 40 m and 1,000 tonnes at 50 m.
Asked why the company had not opted for a 4,000 or 5,000-tonne crane as some of its competitors had, Mr Wessels referred back to the market analysis.
Session moderator, Subsea 7 vice president Stuart Smith posed an answer in the form of a rhetorical question. "If you have a vessel that can access 80% of your market, what is your driver to spend more on a 5,000 tonne crane?" he asked.