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Crew/Supply Boats

Oct 24, 2013 01:56 PM

Pulling out the stops to service oil and gas

(page 1 of 4)

Eastern Shipbuilding’s newest PSVs, just before delivery: a 292-footer for Hornbeck and a 284-footer for Brazil.

With the drilling moratorium a distant memory and a sharp rebound in oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico, shipyards are filled once again with new hulls and modules awaiting assembly, recently delivered cranes and transporters, and welders wielding torches.

As shipyards build bigger and better oilfield support vessels to supply a thirsty nation, the trend towards diesel-electric and z-drive propulsion on workboats continues. And a nagging problem has reappeared: a shortage of professionals and skilled tradesmen to manage and perform all of the work.

This 295-footer from Thoma-Sea Ship Builders started out in the classic red of Gulf Offshore Logistics and was repainted blue after it was bought by Harvey Gulf.

Leevac Shipyards in Jennings, La., currently has contracts for seven PSVs; the hull of one, a 270-foot MMC Ship Design 879 for Tidewater, was on the side-launch ramp this spring. Hull modules for two larger boats, 300- by 62-foot diesel-electric PSVs, also for Tidewater, were taking shape nearby.

Tidewater has options for two additional vessels, all designed by Leevac. These are 5,400-dwt, DP-2 boats that carry more than 17,600 barrels of liquid mud. The propulsion train consists of Caterpillar generators, Schottel drives and thrusters and Siemens power management systems.

The yard is also building two LDS-designed, 270- by 56-foot diesel-electric, 4,000-dwt, DP-2 PSVs for Aries Marine with a propulsion train similar to the Tidewater boats.

A Tidewater PSV under construction at Leevac Shipyards in Jennings, La. Like many yards, Leevac is expanding its facilities this year.

In May, Hornbeck Offshore Services signed a contract with Leevac for two STX-designed, 302-foot diesel-electric MPSVs with Caterpillar generators, Schottel drives and a GE Power Conversion integrated electrical system. Each will be equipped with a 250-ton crane provided by Cargotec.

Like many yards, Leevac is improving its facilities, extending its launch way to 640 feet for two 300-footers. It is also expanding its reach within Louisiana; three years ago, it established Leevac Shipyards Lake Charles, and in June it bought Quality Shipyards of Houma from Tidewater. Houma puts the company in a hotbed of workboat and oilfield vessel construction, with excellent access to the Gulf.

The crew boat yards lining Bayou Teche south of New Iberia are busy welding aluminum into fast/supply vessels, or FSVs — very fast crew boats that have evolved into utility supply boats servicing deepwater rigs.

At Neuville Boat Works in Loreauville, La., the prospects looked bleak last year, the sheds empty and the talk turning to skepticism and politics. This year, the brothers Neuville are beaming with optimism and talking crew boats. They have two 180-footers under contract for an undisclosed overseas client. The problem this year is a shortage of labor — getting skilled workers is difficult, said Errol Neuville. However, he said, “We have these two boats and are getting all kinds of calls to build more boats. Our ideal size is 170 to 180 feet. But our next available slot is two-and-a-half years from now.”

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