A slack few months have seen little in the way of new hires, but have been notable for an outbreak of fleet consolidation
Recent months have seen a paucity of reported offshore vessel hires, with activity concentrated on the company acquisitions market instead.
Tidewater finalised the merger with Gulfmark, creating a combined fleet of 245 OSVs and a company with a market capitalisation of US$1.25Bn, according to a company statement. Elsewhere, shipping industry giant Scorpio Group took control of Nordic American Offshore (NAO) in a deal worth US$5M.
The investment took place via a private placement with Scorpio subsidiary Scorpio Offshore Investments. Scorpio Group founder Emanuele Lauro was appointed chairman and chief executive of NAO, taking over from that company’s founder Herbjorn Hansson and bringing with him Scorpio’s Robert Bugbee as president, Cameron Mackey as chief operating officer and Filippo Lauro as vice president.
The Scorpio Group move has generated considerable interest, as the group has been very successful in raising finance and rapidly expanding into other areas of shipping at the bottom of the cycle, including product tankers and dry bulk carriers.
Mr Lauro said: “Though near-term challenges of the offshore market exist, I believe NAO has all the necessary attributes to succeed in the longer term: high-calibre people, high-calibre assets and strong relationships with key stakeholders, first among them its lenders and its shareholders.”
A similarly opportunistic takeover took place in Singapore, when Swissco Holdings, which is currently under judicial management, said in a stock exchange announcement on 6 December that it had entered into an agreement with Allianz to dispose of “a substantial part of its [OSV] division”.
"In some ways it is surprising that even more consolidation has not taken place during the trough of the offshore economic cycle"
Although 22 vessels were included in the contract, with a put option for a further three, only three Swissco Holdings vessels had employment. The Swissco Holdings vessels include anchor-handling tugs, anchor-handling tug supply (AHTS) vessels, utility tugs, workboats and crew boats.
In some ways it is surprising that even more consolidation has not taken place during the trough of the offshore economic cycle. According to VesselsValue, 1,647 companies control the 7,580-strong OSV fleet, but only five companies (Bourbon, Edison Chouest Offshore, Tidewater, Solstad and COSL) have fleets in excess of 100 OSVs. This hugely fragmented fleet could certainly withstand a few more mergers.
S&P activity during the November/December period was limited to 13 AHTS sales. These included the aforementioned Swissco Holdings, which sold the AHTS Swissco Pearl to Bonaire Holdings for US$3.65M.
VesselsValue reported that Toisa sold three Super Large AHTS, Toisa Elan, Toisa Envoy and Toisa Explorer in an en bloc deal to Eastern Navigation for US$6.0M. However, the sales exclude US$1.5M class reactivation costs and relocation to South East Asia.
Those vessels that did find employment include Solstad Offshore’s construction support vessel (CSV) Far Sleipnir, which has been contracted for at least two years by Total Exploration & Production Congo.
Under the terms of the contract, Far Sleipnir will act as a field-support vessel, equipped with ROV systems and providing inspection, maintenance and repair, subsea umbilicals, risers and flowlines, subsea intervention and drilling support to Total’s operations offshore Congo-Brazzaville.
Looking further ahead, offshore contractor Naviera Integral has ordered a 5009 fast crew supplier boat from Damen, in anticipation of international oil major activity in the Gulf of Mexico.
Naviera Integral ordered the Damen vessel to meet anticipated demand from international oil majors in need of support services as a result of outgoing Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto’s energy sector reforms, which break the monopoly previously enjoyed by state-owned energy company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) on oil exploration in the country. The Damen 5009 can be supplied with four CAT/MTU engines, with power ranging from 4.4 to 9.4 MW and a speed range from 22-30 knots.