The offshore industry has been through one of the worst crises in history over the past three years, and hence, all the companies in the offshore support vessel market (OSV) have been severely affected. Exploration and production (E&P) companies have reduced their rig counts drastically, causing demand for OSV services to plunge. Excess rig capacity has hit platform supply vessels (PSVs) and anchor-handling tug supply (AHTS) vessels the hardest. For the next few years, OSV firms are likely to have to confront their new reality: lower demand, shorter charter contracts, and reduced day-rates. However, as the oil price has doubled since reaching the bottom in January 2016, the OSV market is expected to move into recovery stage during the forecast period. Rates and utilization are expected to continue being passive during the financial year 2018, as the oversupply of vessels in the market tempers any near-term recovery; however, conditions in the medium-term are expected to improve.
With the drop in oil prices, many of the offshore production platforms have turned uneconomical, and are expected to be decommissioned. Many offshore oil & gas fields, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico and North Sea regions, are approaching their maturity. Therefore, the number of production platforms operating in these fields is expected to be decommissioned in the near future. With the drop in OSV day rates after oil price crisis, decommissioning activity has become cheaper, and hence, some platforms of decommissioning projects, which were delayed in the past, are being reconsidered. There are around 2,189 estimated existing platforms on the outer continental shelf (OCS) of the United States, as of September 30, 2017. Of this, approximately 30% of the platforms are non-producing and need decommissioning. Similar decommissioning activities are expected to be needed in other offshore oil & gas regions as well. The demand for OSVs is expected to further increase from the same, during the forecast period.
When counting all asset sizes (i.e., including low-end tonnage), the Southeast Asian market is the largest OSV market in the world. The Asian OSV market has been negatively impacted by continued high-supply growth within the region. As a result, the utilization and day rates of OSV in the region have been under pressure. The market is dominated by local vessel owners and locally flagged ones and is highly competitive. However, with the rebounding of oil prices to sustainable levels, since January 2016, coupled with growing quest for energy security via offshore oil & gas field development, the demand for OSVs is expected to further increase in the Asia-Pacific region during the forecast period.
As a part of its national policy to reduce its dependence on foreign countries for its domestic crude needs, China has been rapidly making a significant investment for the development of its offshore oil & gas fields. In 2016, China’s largest producer of crude oil & natural gas, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), drilled a total of 115 exploration wells and made 12 new discoveries in offshore China. The company is planning to drill over 120 offshore exploration wells in the next five years, which, in turn, is expected to increase the demand for PSV and AHTS in the country, to carry out different activities during exploration & production activities.
Major Players: Bourbon Corporation SA, Maersk Supply Services, A/S, SEACOR Holdings Inc., Edison Chouest Offshore, LLC, Swire Pacific Limited, Tidewater, Inc., Harvey Gulf International Marine, LLC, Solstad Farstad ASA, Hornbeck Offshore Services, Inc., and GulfMark Offshore, Inc., among others.
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