Offshore Gulf of Mexico Report Rigs, Boats Built at Record Clip The word is "go-go-go" among the shipyards that build vessels to service offshore rigs and platforms and the significant subsea pipelines, tiebacks and other undersea infrastructure that surrounds such oil and gas producing facilities. "The industry is certainly on a building tear right now," said Roy Breaux Jr., owner of Breaux's Bay Craft, builder of crew/supply boats. "We are scheduled out to the end of 2010, and we have booked seven more vessels that we just haven't put on the schedule right now." "We have plenty of work right now with our fleet of mini-supply and utility boats," said Wes Bordelon, owner of Bordelon Marine, Lockport, La "The possible downside for those of us in the mini-supply boat business is market saturation. There are a lot of new 145-160-ft. vessels coming into the market. Also some owners are keeping their older 180s running by refurbishing and repairing them. Unless something unforeseen happens, day rates may soften a bit later this year or next. But the landing may be softened by worsening political situations in the Middle East or the opening of oil/gas fields in the eastern Gulf of Mexico." Naval architect A. K. Suda of New Orleans agrees. "The market for new construction as well as renovations and repair is strong right now, especially in new lift boat construction. "We do a lot of design of lift boats and owners want long legs to work in deeper water." One bell weather indicator or offshore supply activity is the financial health of Tidewater, Inc., the company in this business with 470 vessels. A recent earnings report indicated that the company would post earnings per share in the $1.61 to $1.68 range for the last three months of 2006 up from the predicted $1.45 per share. The record earnings posted by the oil majors have been well-recorded in these pages, and is liable to continue as rigs such as the world's largest floating facility, Thunder Horse, badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, are set to open in 2008 as the undersea pipelines and tiebacks so scrambled by Katrina are also mostly repaired will be back on line. According to a recent report from IMA, floating production continues to grow at a dynamic pace, as there are now 197 floating production systems in operation worldwide, another 62 systems on order, and most importantly, there are more than 100 projects in the planning stage that potentially require a floating production system. All of this bodes well for the companies that build the products, systems and boats designed to fuel the continued, rapid expansion of the offshore oil and gas business. Given the strong underlying market fundamentals, IMA's new forecast calls for 119 to 149 production floater orders over the next five years. This is 15 percent higher than last year's forecast. The rig count in the Gulf of Mexico hovers around 140 with a few of these going in the International market. If this trend continues, it could cool off the market faster than any other single factor, most experts agree. happening at the same time that many coastal shipyards are simultaneously trying to rebuild their facilities and their workforce. "We are still looking for a wide variety of almost all ship building trades, as well as estimators and other positions," said Robert Socha, marketing manager of Bollinger Shipyards, Lockport, La. "Actually our employment is higher than pre-Katrina levels, so our drive for additional employees is fueled by the additional business we have generated," Socha said. Socha sees future business for Bollinger's 13 shipyards from many sources. "Interest in our 190-ft. supply boats is strong with somewhat surprising activity among South American and even European buyers. There is also a demand for lift boats to continue with the repair of infrastructure left from the hurricanes of 18 months ago," Socha added. "Our repair and renovation is also strong," Socha said. "We have three new dry docks under construction and for the next five years we will be continually building new tonnage in this area with Supply Boats Much of the new construction boom is Bordelon Marine's 163-ft. supply boat MV Marcelle Bordelon maneuvers close to an oil platform . 30 · MarineNews · April, 2007
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