North Sea to heat up

North Sea anchor handling tug supply (AHTS) rates could soon reach levels ‘not seen in years’ with newbuilding orders to follow, according to a leading offshore broker.
Boa Bison, one of only three AHTS expected to join the North Sea this year.

Boa Bison, one of only three AHTS expected to join the North Sea this year.

Only three AHTS are set to hit the market in 2014 while demand is sure to spike following start up of a major oil project in the Arctic, Kristiansand-based Westshore says in its monthly report.

“We are anticipating that these deliveries will be more than cancelled out by the demand for tonnage in the forthcoming Kara Sea campaign which is due to take place between May and October in 2014 and 2015,” Westshore says.

Rates could hit their highest level since the 2008 peak when one AHTS spot fixture was done at GBP 185,000 (NOK 1.85m) per day although they are unlikely to reach those heights, Westshore says.

The move northwards into frontier waters and the lack of suitable vessels could also ignite orders for ice-class newbuildings, the broker adds.

“Demand for ice-class vessels will outstrip supply forcing up prices and generating newbuild orders for specialist ice-class AHTS tonnage,” it says.

PSVs will be absorbed

By contrast the PSV market is set to be well supplied with 33 vessels due to hit the water in 2014, continuing the trend seen over the past two years.

However Westshore calmed fears that these vessels could have a huge impact in the North Sea with some of them more likely to head for other markets.

“Amongst the newbuilds are 10 vessels being built at Sinopacific and Cochin for Seatankers and although similar PSVs have picked up term work in the UK we do not anticipate they will enter the Norwegian market and they could be more suited to international waters,” it said.

Brazil would be one destination, with Petrobras expected to return to the charter market following a recent lull in activity, the broker points out.

Eleven units already have term contracts in place before delivery although some older tonnage will be forced back onto the spot market, it adds.

“We are anticipating that the delivery schedule of some of these vessels will mitigate the impact with around half to join the spot market in the first six months of the year and four in the third quarter with another five in the final quarter although some of these could slip into 2015,” Westshore said.