At the European Dynamic Positioning Conference on 5 February, session chair, Hornbeck Offshore Services chief operating officer Carl Annessa, led a panel of experts who shared their views on the future of dynamic positioning
In opening Session 1, “DP Market Trends, Evolution & Diversification,” Mr Annessa said the ultimate goal for the industry was to deliver incident-free dynamic positioning (DP) performance. He emphasised the need for greater transparency, with complete sharing of lessons learned from incidents through neutral bodies such as IMCA or the Marine Technology Society’s Learnings From Incidents (LFI) without legal attribution, commercial retribution or commercial obfuscation.
Westshore Shipbrokers offshore analyst Inge Moy said the use of DP on drill rigs has had a significant impact on the AHTS vessel market. As of 2004, 29% of the drill rig fleet operating worldwide were fitted with DP systems. As of 2013, this level increased to 59%. As of 2019, 74% of drill rigs have DP systems, and, as Mr Moy explained, some regions have 100% or close to it. When drill rigs are fitted with DP systems, no AHTS vessels are required.
Mr Moy said the use of POSMOOR also limits the need for AHTS vessels. POSMOOR is used to actively reduce tension in individual lines, or assist the position mooring system’s winches in moving the rig from one position to another. With the demand for DP drill rigs rising, “you can see why (AHTS) owners are struggling,” said Mr Moy.
The lack of newbuilding in the AHTS market — no new vessels were ordered in 2018 — involves oil majors, in that the industry is not investing in the latest technology according to Mr Moy.
When it comes to addressing the needs of the offshore market, the Damen Shipyard Group has taken a different systems-based design and engineering approach.
Peter Robert, who is responsible for developing Damen’s international offshore wind business, feels that instead of using “tonnage of convenience”, operators need to use a purpose-built vessel. Damen built a complete simulation of a walk-to-work vessel, a so-called digital twin, to fully assess the operational requirements, optimise the DP system, optimise worker accommodations and comfort, and gangway and transfer operations.
The optimised walk-to-work vessel provided substantially more workable days than a PSV in a simulation that involved operating in the German Bight.
“You cannot just base vessel performance on Response Amplitude Operator (RAO),” explained Mr Robert, “because the vessel is not situated in just one place. What is the DP system’s performance moving from one installation to the next?” Mr Robert emphasised that analyses of vessel performance should be based on both RAO and DP.
Kongsberg Maritime is a pioneer in the DP market. Tapping into that 40 years of experience, Kristian Ivar Øien, who advises on product development, is looking to develop systems that support operator decision making. The ultimate goal is develop autonomous DP systems capable of keeping a vessel on station without human intervention. The company is moving forward with projects such as the Yara Birkeland, the first fully autonomous, fully electric container ship. “In an autonomous system, you cannot just issue alarms,” noted Mr Øien. “You have to have each component address its own problems.”