Pipelay vessel fleet shows some growth

The result of Offshore's 2011 survey of pipelay vessels indicates that only a handful of new pipelay vessels were added to the worldwide fleet during the two years since the previous survey.

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Jerry Greenberg
Special Correspondent

The result ofOffshore's 2011 survey of pipelay vessels indicates that only a handful of new pipelay vessels were added to the worldwide fleet during the two years since the previous survey. This trend indicates apparent little increased demand for such units during the two-year period. The latest information on the global offshore pipelay vessel fleet can be seen on the 2011 Pipelay Vessels poster inside this issue or online at www.offshore-mag.com.

There are a few newbuild vessels in the yards scheduled for delivery in the next couple of years, and likely by the time the 2013 survey is completed, fleet size could also experience growth counted only in a handful or less of new units.

On the other hand, a couple of pipelay vessel operators decided that it was best for them to grow through acquisitions and mergers rather than via newbuild units. Two companies announced a merger in 2010 that was completed in January 2011; while more recently an acquisition was announced that would result in a company with 29 pipelay vessels, among other types of equipment.

Companies growing through new construction include Swiber Holdings in Singapore, which added three new vessels to its fleet since the previous survey in 2009. They include theSwiber Resolute, a derrick pipelay/accommodation vessel delivered in 2009; the 1MAS 300 pipelay/accommodation unit; and the PJW 3000 Derrick pipelay/accommodation vessel. The last two were both delivered in 2010.

In June 2010, Subsea 7 and Acergy announced plans to merge after a couple of previous attempts. This time, it took. The merger was completed in January 2011 and resulted in a company with 18 pipelay vessels, 11 contributed by Subsea 7 and seven from Acergy's pipelay vessel fleet. The merger had a market value of $5.4 billion. The combined company is operating a fleet of 43 vessels for subsea umbilical, riser and flowline (SURF) projects, and conventional field development and life of field services. These latter services include inspection, repair and maintenance, survey and decommissioning, in addition to its pipelaying services.

In an acquisition announced this past September, Technip is planning to acquire 100% of Global Industries in a transaction valued at just over $1 billion. The deal, which includes 14 Global Industries vessels, includes seven pipelay units including two recent deliveries,Global 1200 and Global 1201 with S-lay capabilities. These vessels would give Technip's fleet this capability for the first time.

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TheGlobal 1200 features an AmClyde single post crane on the aft and a center firing line on the freeboard deck. The combination derrick/pipelay vessel has a lifting capacity of 1,200 tons, 400 tons deepwater lowering system capacity, and is capable of operating in up to 10,000 ft of water.

Global Industries took delivery of theGlobal 1200 in summer 2010, and its sister vessel, Global 1200, is scheduled for delivery in early 2012. The Global 1200 is a dynamically positioned combined derrick/pipelay vessel, and is a customized version of the Ulstein Sea of Solutions' SOC 600 design. The design incorporates an AmClyde single post crane on the aft and a center firing line on the freeboard deck. The vessel has a lifting capacity of 1,200 tons, 400 tons of deepwater lowering system capacity, and is capable of operating in up to 10,000 ft of water.

The vessel is propelled by two 4,500 kW thrusters providing a trial speed of 15 knots. Combined with the five retractable thrusters of 2,400 kW each and an 880 kW tunnel thruster the vessel is classed DP-2. However, the generator room and switchboard lay-out meet DP-3 requirements to provide additional redundancy.

Other vessel operators have also been active. In December 2009, McDermott reached an agreement with Oceanteam to aquire an approximate 50% ownership stake in theNO102 vessel-owning company and a 75% ownership stake in the NO105 vessel-owning company, partnering with Oceanteam to construct the newbuild NO105. McDermott is chartering the vessels for five years from these respective companies, after which, McDermott will have the option to purchase Oceanteam's shares in both vessel-owning companies. McDermott is using the vessels to install a variety of products and facilities for the offshore oil and gas industry, including submarine power cables, control cables and umbilicals, flexible pipelines, rigid-reeled pipelines, subsea components and hardware, as well as deepwater moorings for floating facilities.

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McDermott previously upgraded the 427-ftNO102's capability by installing a high-capacity flexible-lay system for ultra-deepwater installation work, including installation of a new 250-ton crane. Additional upgrades made during 2011 included increasing the vessel's deepwater capabilities.

McDermott upgraded the 427 ft (130 m)NO102's capability by installing a high-capacity flexible-lay system for ultra-deepwater installation work. The upgrade will include installation of a new 250-ton crane. Additional upgrades made during 2011 included increasing the vessel's deepwater capabilities.

The 427-ftNO105 is under construction at the Metalships & Docks S.A.U. shipyard in Vigo, Spain. The vessel, scheduled for delivery in late 2011, will have a high capacity rigid-reeled pipelay system with top-tier payload capacity. The system will also accommodate installation of flexible products including submarine cables and umbilicals and flexible pipelines.

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