V.Group director offshore Alessandro Ciocchi discusses how a vessel manager can help OSV owners gain better control over their operations
Whether it is the regulatory pressures posed by new international or regional laws, technical and economic challenges of vessel reactivations, sluggish recovery in utilisation and day rates, or the increased expectations of charterers, OSV owners are being squeezed on all sides.
That is where Alessandro Ciocchi can help. “With owners facing a wide range of regulatory challenges in the coming decades”, Mr Ciocchi told Offshore Support Journal, “they want us, as asset managers to provide not only marine operation services, but certainty and confidence for owners wanting to stay one step ahead, and to help them thrive in an unpredictable and challenging market by leveraging our global resources and local expertise.”
Mr Ciocchi has been a familiar presence in the offshore and maritime energy sector for many years, working for Single Buoy Mooring and as a project engineering manager in the leased floating production, storage and offloading unit (FPSO) marketing, commercial and technological development department at Italy’s Saipem.
The last eight years he has been with V.Group, where he now serves as group director offshore. V.Group provides services to shipowners, contractors and oil majors globally covering a diverse asset base including PSVs, AHTSs, construction vessels, FPSOs and drilling units, among others.
V.Group currently managing 20 vessels in the OSV sector but far more in the offshore sector as a whole.
“As a third-party asset manager, we provide our customers with a comprehensive range of marine services, as well as the ability to blend those services together in unique combinations to meet specific customer needs”, he said. “This reflects the fact that owners have a range of different needs, and do not simply expect marine operations any more. They expect a ship manager to be a total outsourcing partner and provide any combination of a full range of services”.
Mr Ciocchi says V.Group can provide technical services such as newbuild supervision to upgrades, repairs and maintenance, crew management and crew services including training, travel, catering and welfare needs, supply chain demands and insurance solutions.
With the offshore market slowly emerging from a protracted slump, OSV owners are faced with tough decisions regarding the reactivation of vessels, some of which have been in layup for more than two years. “It is important to understand some vessels in cold layup may never come back to life, and there is a ‘grey area’ of assets that will need the right set of circumstances to come back online,” said Mr Ciocchi. “Within this area are vessels between 5-10 years old, with a large deck – particularly small subsea construction vessels, inspection, repair and maintenance, and survey vessels. Their price to reactivate will partially depend on how well they were preserved, and on how economically they can be brought back into service”, he explained.
Reaction has to be “as quick and efficient as possible”, he said. One way to do this is through “strategic procurement.”
“This process involves critical element analysis to ensure that spares, equipment and components can be bought as economically as possible”. For this to be successful, he said, relationships with shipyards and global suppliers is critical.
“V.Group has relationships with most major shipyards around the world,” said Mr Ciocchi, “allowing us to take into account the most important factors for our customers – price, availability of credit, technical capability, location, and capacity. Ultimately it is a very different set of considerations depending on the project or the location.”
Mr Ciocchi said that one area in particular that V.Ships can support the efforts of OSV owners is in digitalisation. “It is undeniable that access to greater quantities of accurate data has changed shipping over recent years”, he said. “In our view, this has fundamentally enhanced the value that third-party asset managers can deliver for our customers. We are uniquely placed to make sure that data collected is accurate, and that it is acted on to improve performance.”
V.Ships uses its ShipSure platform to deliver “owners better control over their operations” and “offer a much higher value service to the owner if managers can use data to optimise a ship’s commercial performance”. Using the ShipSure platform, Mr Ciocchi said, the data might result in a recommendation “to spend money on hull cleaning to improve hull performance – which equals improved pool points”.
“Ultimately, this means that we, as the asset manager can turn digitalisation and data into better results, as the role of technical management in a fragmented industry grows beyond what was previously regarded as solely technical.”
For condition-based maintenance, V.Groups uses SeaTec Condition Monitoring to track lube and fuel oil analysis, ballast, grey sewage and potable water analysis, vibration analysis, thermography and onboard surveys. Mr Ciocchi said the system can “provide owners with a detailed and accurate snapshot of their assets’ health and operational safety”. He added, “SeaTec’s solutions allow for a drastic reduction in downtime and eliminates the need for emergency repairs and overhauls, allowing vessels to operate smoothly and reliably around the clock”.