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Various sources reported the market as being in an
‘upset’ state of play, making the job of sorting the wheat from the
chaff something of a skill this month. On the one hand, a broker reported
as being reminiscent of Great Yarmouth in the old
Northsea herring boom days, with vessels tied from quay to quay so tightly
it was possible to walk from one side of the port to the other. Right!
Another - one of only a small handful of reputable sources - was more
succinct and reported the market during June as being less than bouyant but
not quite at crash level. It appears that the spot market was almost full to
the brim with charter rates responding accordingly, in some cases going down
by 50% in under 5 days. One broker reported a longcast in more onerous
terms, predicting that recent newbuildings and spot market increase in
tonnage may present ‘a challenge’ in the near future. However, the same
source is confident that the market will pick up as the year accelerates
towards autumn - something I feel sure many hope is the case.
Given that there are 20 PSV’s under construction currently in
European yards, 15 for delivery in ‘03, 4 in ‘04 and 1 which is TBC
(Vik Sandvik’s all aft VS493) newbuildings continue to dominate the
scene. As an aside, 11 of these are UT PSV designs, proving again their
popularity amongst operators. There are also 7 AHTS/ MPAHTS under
construction for delivery ‘03 / ‘04, 4 of which are UT’s and the
remaining three of Maersk design.
I will continue to peruse the situation from my comfortable leather
chair and hope that I don’t get to writing that most hackneyed of phrases
so beloved of cynics like my good self; ‘I told you so.’ Having said
that, perhaps brokers speculating ‘challenges ahead’ are not merely
crystal ball gazing? Time will tell....
Vessel bits and pieces
Solstad's UT745E PSV Normand Flipper was
taken on by Statoil for a 28 day firm + 21 daily options. The vessel was on
for Saipem on the Castro Sei but
had taken advantage of a gap in the charter to play the field. She is due to
return to Saipem upon completion of the Statoil stint.
Farstad were cracking open the celebrations last month when two of
their vessels took up long term charters (3.3 years) with Arrendadora Ocean
Mexicana SA on a maintenance charter. Both Far Scotia and new build Far
Swift - of the UT755 type - were taken up to start work in August and
September. Both ships will have extra accommodation bolted on for the
contract, to be fitted by Aker Brattvaag. Other fittings will include a new
DP system and a new 40 tonne crane. Far Scotia is
currently on with ASCO, due off charter second half of July whilst Far
Swift should be out from the shipyard at Brevik a short time before
that. AHTS Lady Astrid, an UT712, has been delivered by Simek to P/R
International Offshore Services ANS, a subsidiary of Farstad Shipping. It is
reported that the vessel will operate - at least initially - in the
GulfMark's Highland Eagle has been taken up for survey work by
Canyon Offshore. The UT755L design is expected to have completed the
contract around the end of August. Staying
with Gulf, July 3rd was the date when the two newbuildings, UT722L AHTS Highland
Valour and PSV UT755 Highland Monarch entered the fleet list.
Boa’s AHTS VS480 Boa Giant completed off
before returning to the
. She is due a small period of ‘down time’ before
taking up a short charter with Aker-Kvaerner.
Ostensjo’s Edda Freya is on for two months with Norsk Hydro
after beating stiff competition for the job whilst their newbuild ST253 ROV/Survey
ship Edda Fonn was delivered. An interesting looking vessel, she was
chartered to DeepOcean to work for Statoil and Norsk Hydro for 150/200 days
per annum, the off time being spent ‘uncommitted’.
Toisa’s PSV VS483 Toisa Intrepid ended her 5 year stint with
ASCO before going to the Tyne for dry docking. Once out of the wash and
brush up, she is expected to trade the spot.
TFDS UT740 AHTS Troms Tjeld ended a marathon 6 year charter to
Statoil this month - but there was no rest for her as she was blown away on
a contract for transportation work for a wind farm operator in Ireland.
Eidesvik’s VS490 PSV Viking Dynamic, due to end her Statoil
charter in July, has been taken on by Danish outfit DONG for a 1 year firm
charter. A newbuild VS470 MkII, under construction at Westcon - originally
due for Sira Offshore - has also been taken over by Eidesvik. Built in
Lithuania and towed to Norway for completion, she is due to be delivered
early in 2004.
Trico Marine's UT741 Northern Admiral has
now been confirmed as Norsk Hydro’s AHTS following the competition for the
contract. The ship is fixed for 2 years + options. Northern Corona
was taken on by Agip for an 80 day firm supporting
Swire Pacific’s seemingly unstoppable newbuild drive was almost
capped this month when the final three UT710 AHTS types were delivered from
INP South Korea. The three ships Pacific Wyvern, Wrangler and Wrestler
will all trade in the Far East - although the caveat ‘for the forseeable
future’ means they could also pop up in other more exotic places like
Torry without much warning! Swire - nonplussed by their already extensive
programme - then announced that that have also ordered two UT780 AHTS from
an Indonesian yard with delivery sometime towards the end of 2004. You
can’t keep a good man down, it seems!
Tidewater added to the spot this month when KMAR 404 AHTS McNee
Tide arrived with the company also stating that VS480 PSV Robert H.
Boh was also en route.
Maersk brought two ships out of global hiding this month, producing
their ‘S’ class Maersk Supporter, having spent her time away from
the North Sea on contracts in the Far East and West Africa. Maersk Logger
was also due but the last news I had was that she had popped up down south
in Great Yarmouth.
Havila - who have now confirmed they will acquire the standby fleet -
saw the launching of their AFSV UT527 at Vyborg in Russia last month. The
vessel, named Havila Troll , is designated an Area Field Surveillance
Vessel, and was towed after launching for fit out to Havyards Leirvik. She
is due for charter to Norsk Hydro in December of this year.
In the standby sector, BUE Viking’s Viking Venturer was fixed
to Shell for standy duties with Heerema’s heavy lift barge Thialf. Terms
are 2 months firm with further options.
On a tug note, Smit has purchased Belgian towage company URS - Unie
van Redding en Sleepdienst - who are possibly better known as owners of the
UT722 Union Manta and the larger President Hubert. Smit
already owned 49.9% share in URS but will now acquire the total share
capital. URS own a fleet of tugs operating towage and salvage on the Schelde
and in and around the Belgian coastline.
Staying with tugs, the venerable AHT Lady Laura is reported
sold, subject to inspection. Operated by Klyne Tugs she was built in 1977 as
the Lunde Senior and took a few names before her present one. She is
advertised as having 10000BHP with a bollard pull of 100 tons. Interestingly
she spent some time as Stril Poseidon - which brings me neatly to....
Simon Mokster took delivery of the new Stril Poseidon on the
5th July at Langsten Verft, hailing the ship as the ‘world’s most
advanced standby vessel’. Fitted with a special stern ramp for boat
recovery, and with an onboard survivor capacity of 370 people, she is on for
Statoil on an 8 year charter working the Halten Bank area of the Norwegian
Given that the season of holidays is upon me, I am
unable to submit anything this month as part of the comments section. Whilst
I love writing this column, it is acknowledged that even scribes who do this
sort of thing for love need a break - and I am taking mine! Hopefully,
I’ll be back with something topical next month!
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