Significant deliveries reduce Spain’s offshore support orders as yards focus on diversification
Diversification is currently the watchword at those Spanish yards that previously built offshore support vessels. The strategy reflects their response to a situation, reported on in OSJ a year ago, when yard managers spoke of the wider renewable sector as a focus for replacement business.
Some of the contracts mentioned then have now come to fruition, in particular Astilleros Gondán’s then recently-launched Edda Passat. It was the first of two service operation vessels (SOVs) it had on order for Norway’s Østensjø Rederi and was delivered on 27 February this year and immediately went into service for Ørsted UK Wind Power.
Edda Passat had been named on 3 February, a day after the yard launched its sister, Edda Mistral. Both will support maintenance technicians for wind turbines, with 40 of them living onboard, plus 20 crew.
This pair of ships was commissioned to Rolls-Royce’s UT 540 design and are early examples of a new family of UT designs that was unveiled in June 2017. At the time, Rolls-Royce Marine said it had made a radical overhaul of its vessel design philosophy to optimise construction and operations, without reducing the use of space on board.
Another significant delivery in Spain during 2017 was the 57 m Seacor Puma, a dynamically-positioned crew transfer vessel built by Astilleros Armon for Seacor Marine. It was shortlisted for the Support Vessel of the Year Award at this year’s OSJ Awards in February, which acknowledged vessels that “have set an industry benchmark through innovative design and efficient operation.” The yard also delivered its sister vessel, Seacor Panther, last year.
They were built to a new Incat Crowther ‘CrewZer’ design and the catamaran vessels are described as being unique in the Gulf of Mexico because of their ability to transfer personnel and equipment to offshore platforms at maximum speeds in excess of 40 knots, each powered by four Cummins QSK95 engines.
They were the first references for this engine type, which its manufacturer said would deliver “increased power and reliability, fast transient response and simple serviceability” when the engine order was announced in September 2016. As well as carrying offshore personnel in comfort, the craft have a large aft deck and firefighting capability.
Offshore overhauls fly in the Canaries
A Rolls-Royce service centre on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands has seen a large increase in thruster overhauls for offshore operators. Rolls-Royce vice president customer and sales Nils-Reidar Olsvik Valle told OSJ in mid-May that, globally, it had seen a five-fold increase in thruster overhauls so far this year compared to 2017, with the bulk of the work at the Spanish plant.
“This year we have seen a real ramp-up in thruster exchange and overhaul,” he said, which he credited to an upturn in exploration and production activity. Mr Olsvik Valle added that the centre’s location in the Atlantic, on the key transit routes between Northern Europe, West Coast Africa, South America and the Gulf of Mexico, is a key to its success. The local maritime infrastructure is also important, he said, crediting its “excellent supply chain and highly-skilled workforce.”
Its service centre covers an area of 2,100 m2 and can recondition up to six azimuth thruster units simultaneously. It is located in the Astican Shipyard and is run as a partnership between the two companies, giving owners an added benefit of access to Astican’s deep-water quay and extensive repair and overhaul facilities, which is ideal for larger rigs, Mr Olsvik Valle said. “We have a symbiotic relationship which means we can be flexible in handling our customers’ requirements,” he said.
Astican has recently invested in a quayside facility to handle growing demand for overhauls to Rolls-Royce UUC thrusters, which can be removed and remounted under water. The yard is also planning to build a new graving dock, large enough to handle vessels up to 320 m.