A troublesome outlook for heavy lift vessels within the market for topside and jacket installation, prompted by challenging market in recent years, has led contractors to seek out opportunities in less traditional markets.
Two such bright spots are offshore wind and decommissioning, according to Douglas Westwood, an energy intelligence group, which claims that the former is becoming increasingly-attractive as the volume of installed turbines per year grows rapidly and the projects become larger and further from shore.
The HLV contractors have seen a major decline in fixed platform installations and this year is expected to result in c.45% less fixed assets installed when compared to 2014 levels.
As explained, the strategic advantage of HLVs is their cost effectiveness as both sectors seek out most economical solutions. As such, in a market where day rates are often driven by tonnage requirements, super heavy lift vessels may have a somewhat-limited market reach and vessels that are over specified will risk lower day rates, the intelligence group adds.
For HLVs venturing into turbine installation market crane capacity in the range of 1,500-3,000T is suitable for most offshore wind installations and sufficient deck space with the ability to carry at least 4 monopiles typically preferred.
For HLVs with lifting capacity >5,000T, decommissioning represents a significant opportunity, particularly within the North Sea which is characterized by large platforms – c.40% of platforms within the UK and c.85% of platforms within Norway have a combined substructure and topside weight >5,000T.
Until recently the largest single lift decommissioning operation had been the removal of the Frigg TCP2 MSF, weighing in at 8,500T.
However, “with the introduction of super heavy lift vessels such as Allsea’s Pioneering Spirit, Heerema’s Sleipnir (due for delivery in 2019) as well as recent orders from Shandong Twin Marine for two vessels with lifting capacity of 34,000T, it is hoped that the decommissioning of the North Sea’s heaviest platforms will become more efficient,” Douglas Westwood concludes.