The S&P market is proving a fertile ground to pick up quality tonnage at bargain prices
Vessel reactivations, debt restructurings and the reshuffling of assets to focus on core markets or generate additional working capital have set the stage for a lively market, with vessels priced to move, particularly in platform supply vessels (PSVs).
In US-flag, Jones Act tonnage, Fearnley Offshore Supply reports that US-based Harvey Gulf International Marine (HGIM) has been quite active in Q3, selling five PSVs, while acquiring another. HGIM sold four PSVs and bought the 2016-built PSV Hermes from Adriatic Marine, Raceland, Louisiana, while selling the 2002-built PSV Ben Cheramie (ex Harvey Herd) to Cheramie Marine, Larose, Louisiana, for work outside the offshore oil and gas sector.
The sale between Harvey Gulf and Adriatic Marine was actually a ‘swap,’ in which VesselsValue puts both the purchase price of Hermes and the en bloc price of the four Harvey Gulf vessels – Red Stag (ex Harvey Worker), Axis (ex Harvey Wave), Sitka (ex Harvey Saint) and Big Horn (ex Harvey Giant) - at US$16M.
US-based owner Northstar Marine has reportedly acquired two dynamic positioning (DP) class 2-capable vessels, the 73.2-m Commander (ex C-Commander) and 56.3-m Northstar Independence (ex Independence), formerly owned by Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO), Galliano, Louisiana.
Norway’s Siem Offshore has reached an agreement to sell two of its vessels: Seabed Geosolutions purchased the ocean-bottom seismic vessel Hugin Explorer (ex Siem Mariner) from Siem at the end of the firm period of a long-term bareboat charter; Hugin Explorer – which has been part of Seabed’s fleet since the company was formed in 2013 as a joint venture of Fuguro and CGG – has dual remotely operated vehicle (ROV) node deployment and source vessel capabilities.
DP-2 class capable Hugin Explorer is a Marin Teknikk MT 6000 Mk II design built by Kleven Yard in Norway. The vessel has an overall length of 85.65 m, beam of 19.7 m, depth of 7.45 m and draught of 6.2 m and can accommodate 65. Seabed Geosolutions and predecessor entities have deployed Hugin Explorer extensively for ROV operations in several basins worldwide since 2008.
Siem Offshore also completed the sale of the 2009-built multipurpose field and ROV support vessel (MRSV) Siem Marlin to Nigeria’s Marine Platforms Ltd. An MT 6017 Mk II design, Siem Marlin was built for subsea light construction and installation work, with an active heave compensation 250-t offshore crane, moonpool, helideck and accommodation for 68. The MRSV has a length overall of 93.6 m, beam of 19.7 m, depth of 7.85 m, with a clear deck area of 886 m2.
Quality is key
At Riviera Maritime Media’s Asian Offshore Support Journal Conference in Singapore in September, Vessels Value head of Singapore Charlie Hockless mentioned that southeast Asian vessel owners were able to acquire “good quality vessels” and put them right to work, which he saw as key. One of the owners mentioned by Mr Hockless was Kim Heng Offshore & Marine Holdings Limited, which purchased the 6,000-bhp, 60-m anchor-handling tug supply (AHTS) vessel Pacific 8 for S$670,000 (US$492,000) and renamed it Bridgewater 80.
Kim Heng also acquired three 10,800-bhp AHTS vessels from troubled Swiber Holdings: Swiber Else, Swiber Anne Christine and Swiber Mary Ann, for US$3.3M apiece. Renamed Bridgewater 130, Bridgewater 131 and Bridgewater 132, the vessels were chartered for work in Malaysia and Indonesia.
In July 2018, Kim Heng Offshore acquired 65-tonne bollard pull AHTS vessel Lewek Lynx and 30-tonne bollard pull chase boat Swissco Summit. While Swissco Summit was sold to another buyer, Kim Heng renamed Lewek Lynx Mazu 60 and reactivated the vessel after signing a letter of intent for a two-month charter for towage services and other offshore-related activities for a leading oil major in Q3 2018.
Mr Hockless also expects Eastern Navigation Pte – which bought four vessels en bloc from bankrupt Toisa Ltd – to generate cash from the vessels during their lifetimes. Eastern Navigation added three AHTS vessels, Toisa Elan, Toisa Envoy and Toisa Explorer and the multi-purpose ROV light construction vessel Toisa Wave.
He also noted that during the prolonged downturn, Singaporean owners sought refuge in the Middle East, but Mr Hockless now feels the window of opportunity for such redeployments is gone: “Maybe a few years ago, the mobilisation fee was something a company could absorb, [but] that is no longer the case.” Reactivating a vessel that has been laid up for years and repositioning it to a new region to compete for contracts is too costly. “That’s US$3M off the bat,” says Mr Hockless. “I think the time has passed for some companies.”
On the scrapping side, VesselsValue notes that only two out of 20 PSVs were sold for demolition in Q3, including the relatively new VOS Primrose, built in 2016, sold by Vroon Offshore, and the relatively old Mystic Viking, built in 1983, sold by Nautilus Marine.
Outside of scrapping, Fearnley Offshore Supply notes that some vessels are being sold or converted for use outside the oil patch. One is the Borealis Maritime-owned PSV World Opal, a Damen PSV 3300 CD design, which is being converted as a feed boat at Damen Shipyard in the Netherlands.
France’s SeaOwl has taken advantage of “low-priced OSV assets,” says Fearnley, acquiring an AHTS vessel each from Solstad Offshore and Viking Supply Ships, for contracts it has with the French Navy.