Transport takes a tangent

August 1, 2012

Breda-headquartered Dockwise is rapidly expanding its business beyond heavy marine transportation, and carried out its first jacket launch in the Bay of Bengal earlier this year. Meg Chesshyre talks to Dockwise's Fons van Lith in this opener to OE's Netherlands offshore industry review.

The 21,234 ton jacket launched earlier this year for the Shwe golden in Burmese gas project off Myanmar is the fourth largest ever built. Daewoo International (Myanmar E&P) is acting as operator of the project for joint venture partners ONGC Videsh, Korea Gas and Gail, with Hyundai Heavy Industries, supported by Doris Engineering, handling the EPCIC contract for Shwe's phase one development.

Fons van Lith, Dockwise company secretary, says the interesting part of his company's involvement in the Shwe jacket launch in March is that none of the company's vessels were involved. It was all done using third party equipment including the world's second largest launch barge, owned by partner COOEC. Dockwise will be returning at the end of this year for the floatover of the 30,000 ton topsides.

The Sevan Brasil circular FPSO, one of the Dockwise transportation fleet's more challenging cargoes, en route to Brazil.

Last September, again using third part equipment, Dockwise handled the floatover of the 7500 ton CoroCoro topsides for PDVSA in the Gulf of Paria, Venezuela. Elsewhere, Mighty Servant 3 has just started on a major module transportation contract for Chevron's Gorgon project in Australia. Preparations are being made for a topsides floatover in ExxonMobil's Tapis field offshore Malaysia in 2013. There is also a floatover lined up at Bergen Group's Hanøytangen yard in Norway in 2013 for ATP's UK sector Cheviot field. And among the company's more unusual rig transportation jobs earlier this year was the delivery of the Sevan Brasil for Petrobras.

Dockwise, with the four largest vessels in the world fleet (the upcoming newbuild Dockwise Vanguard, Blue Marlin, Mighty Servant 1 and Black Marlin) is focused at the high value end of the market, says van Lith. Dockwise Vanguard is on target to be operational by the end of the year. It already has three substantial transportation contracts lined up the Jack/St Malo hull for Chevron in the Gulf of Mexico, the Goliat FPSO for Eni in the Barents Sea and the deepwater Aasta Hansteen spar for Statoil in the North Sea (OE June).

shweThe Shwe jacket on its way to location and (right) following its launch by Dockwise partner COOEC.

Blue Marlin was widened to 63m in 2004, and there are plans to do the same with Black Marlin in 2014. Conversion will lift Black Marlin's carrying capacity from 56,000te to 76,000te. The decision to convert the Black Marlin follows Dockwise's securing of a letter of intent for the 2015 transport of a spar buoy from the North Sea to the Gulf of Mexico The conversion will take about three months and will be conducted during a scheduled drydock overhaul in 2014.


Dockwise has also managed the newbuild COOEC ship HYSY 278 since its delivery in mid March this year. HYSY stands for Hai Yang Shi You, which is a Chinese abbreviation for Offshore Oil 278. HYSY 278 is a semisubmersible with similar characteristics to Black Marlin. At 222m in length and 53,500dwt, the vessel will be capable of carrying loads of up to 50,000te.

Dockwise started exiting the lower segment of the market a couple of years ago with the sale of its four Type 4 vessels, and is in the process of selling its three Type 5 vessels, dedicated to the transport of yachts Yacht Express, Super Servant 3 and Super Servant 4.

The company has been expanding its backlog for the last five quarters. It now stands at close to $600 million and stretches into 2015/16. Van Lith says the rig transportation market remains buoyant, running at 35-40 every year for Dockwise, despite the economic gloom in other markets, but prices are down because there are fewer back-to-back opportunities. Previously you always found a cargo from say the Gulf of Mexico, to the west coast of Africa, from Africa to India, India to Singapore, Singapore to Korea. Examples would be ferries, barges, or tugs, but now there is less traffic and more competition with under-utilized equipment at the lower end of the market. He also notes that there is a general trend for equipment to get bigger as it goes into more remote areas. The sixth generation rigs now under construction require Dockwise's largest vessels such as Blue Marlin.

Van Lith sees opportunities for consolidation in the heavy marine transportation sector with the sector facing increasing competition from vessels in the Far East moving outside their traditional, depressed port and marine markets. Examples here are manufacturers of equipment such as cranes and dredging equipment, although once these markets come back, these vessels will again be needed for internal transportation.

As OE went to press, it was confirmed that the Fairstar Heavy Transport board had unanimously recommended acceptance of Dockwise's offer for the remaining shares in Fairstar. Dockwise is enthusiastic about the takeover, saying the combined company will have a better fleet composition. OE

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