Harvey Gulf International chairman and chief executive Shane J Guidry discusses why the US OSV owner is expanding its global footprint, reducing its carbon footprint and exploring merger opportunities
Many of Louisiana’s privately held OSV owners can trace their roots to the fishing business. OSV owner Harvey Gulf International Marine (HGIM), headed up by Shane J Guidry, is no exception.
Mr Guidry’s grandfather, Capt Numa J Guidry, an oyster fisherman, started the company in 1941, evolving it into a support boat business for the nascent oil drilling business in the US Gulf of Mexico in 1946.
Joining the company in 1988, like previous family members, Mr Guidry brought with him a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. He initially worked on board tugboats for a year, before going ashore to learn operations, safety and sales. “Over time, I asserted myself and took the bull by the horns at a very young age,” he says.
Mr Guidry still maintains that same hands-on management style that he learned at an early age. In the wake of the downturn in the US Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas business, Mr Guidry has vowed to move aggressively to seize emerging opportunities in other markets. “We’ve operated globally for the last 25 years,” he says, “This is not something new for us.”
He notes that when there was an upturn in the US Gulf of Mexico, it made sound financial sense to position the company’s vessels there to take advantage of the lucrative opportunities.
“In this market, you can’t just sit there. You have to adopt and change,” he says. Mr Guidry adds that in order to expand HGIM’s global footprint, he has spent the last 12 months travelling to meet with old contacts and engage with clients that HGIM has been working with in the US Gulf of Mexico for a number of years. The message he has delivered is simple: the company is committed to going abroad and offering the same level of excellent service that customers are used to in the oil patch.
HGIM has 10 vessels currently working outside the US Gulf in Mexico, Nigeria, Surinam, Guyana, and Trinidad. Two other HGIM vessels will head abroad by the end of the year.
The company is also opening international offices and hiring and training local mariners. “Before we went to Mexico, we secured the proper visas to bring people to train on our boats in the Gulf of Mexico,” says Mr Guidry. “Now we have one American on each of the boats that we have reflagged for Mexico. It’s the same in Guyana, Surinam, Trinidad and Nigeria.”
Bullish on Africa
Mr Guidry is particularly bullish about Africa market. “We want to continue to grow throughout Africa. We’re looking at working in Angola, Kenya and the Congo. Those are all challenging markets, but if you have the right infrastructure, right staff and, most importantly, the right crew members, you can get a lot done.”
Mr Guidry has also made it clear that HGIM is “shopping” for the right opportunities internationally to pick up either second-hand tonnage or a merger partner. “Clearly, there are going to be opportunities out there and we have the cash to take advantage of those when they arise.”
Mr Guidry thinks the offshore marine services sector needs to take its cue from drilling contractors and oil companies that have been able to reap the benefits of consolidation over the last 15 to 20 years. “They’ve been smart about it,” he says. “It’s a shame that as boat owners we can’t figure out how to do the same thing. There’s been some consolidation but more needs to occur.”
Other investments at HGIM have included remote diagnostics and digital tools to support its operators. “We have had equipment monitoring on all our new vessels that have been built since 2011. Clearly, before we send any vessels outside of the Gulf, they all get Fueltrax (electronic fuel monitoring systems) to keep a tight rein on our fuel so that it won’t disappear. We also hire good people to ensure that it won’t.”
HGIM is also undertaking the refit of two of its LNG-fuelled platform supply vessels with battery-hybrid power modules. “The first will be installed in November,” says Mr Guidry. “These will be the first tri-fuel vessels in America. We believe it will create a fuel savings value that will be unmatched by any other vessel on the planet.”
“We believe that carbon reduction in the investor world is becoming real. Large investment funds are demanding your decarbonisation policy.” He says the investments in the battery-hybrid propulsion technology demonstrate Harvey Gulf’s commitment to decarbonisation.
“There are 10 dual-fuel boats on the planet and I own half of them,” states Mr Guidry. “There is nothing more environmentally cleaner and greener than those boats running on LNG. We run on LNG 99% of the time.”
As further evidence of its commitment to decarbonisation, HGIM is investing in the LNG bunkering market, building the first LNG bunker articulated tug barge in the US that will go under long-term charter to Shell starting in 2020. Under the pioneering effort, HGIM and Mr Guidry are joint venture partners in Q-LNG LLC which will charter the 4,000-m3 capacity vessel to Shell to refuel international dual-fuel ships calling in the US southeast.
The LNG bunker ATB builds on HGIM’s investment in a purpose-built LNG bunkering facility that was completed in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, in 2016 to support the company’s LNG-fuelled platform supply vessels.
Adds Mr Guidry: “Next year is going to be a challenging one for everyone. There will be some seasonal work, and you will have to be ahead of those opportunities to get your share.
“You need to keep your eye on the ball for opportunities and have cash to seize on those moments.”
He concludes: “We have a long way to go. This downturn is very far from over. You just have to continue to hunker down, manage cost and provide good service and you’ll be there in the end.”
Bio - Shane J Guidry
Job title: chairman and chief executive, Harvey Gulf International Marine
Favourite motto: live life to the fullest
Favourite app: Mail online
Favourite movie: Doc Hollywood
Favourite book: The One Minute Manager
Admire most in the industry: Tom Crowley
Admire most outside the industry: US Congressman and Republican Minority Leader Steve Scalise