Bourbon Offshore boss Gael Bodenes believes there are too few offshore support vessels around now to support growing demand.

Writing on the shipowner’s website, the chief executive said that in recent months the price of crude oil has reached nearly $120 per barrel.

This comes after a long period of stabilisation at around $60, which the market had previously considered to be a “new normal”, he added.

At the same time, Bodenes argues: “We have moved almost seamlessly from an over-capacity of offshore support vessels during the years 2015 to 2020 to a lack of vessels available in the short term to support market growth.”

Many oil and gas projects that were halted during the pandemic have been reactivated, investments are up sharply and new geographical areas are coming on stream, the CEO said.

But many platform supply vessels and anchor-handling tug supply units remain in lay-up, and others have been sold out of the industry, converted or scrapped. No newbuildings are on order to take their place.

“Our energy sector is currently in a paradoxical situation, to say the least, marked by the unpredictable nature of the crisis we are experiencing today,” Bodenes added.

While the war in Ukraine impacts the energy and commodities markets, Bourbon believes that stretching out beyond short-term uncertainties is the energy transition.

Support for this is not optional, the CEO said.

“It is an imperative necessity in the face of the urgent challenges of global warming, which concerns us all. The ambition and objective of net-zero by 2050 are well set. For at least a decade, oil and gas will remain the necessary alternative to replace coal in the short term,” he added.

Investment essential

Bodenes views the oil and gas sector as essential to support energy demand, but also to finance the development of renewable energies, particularly offshore wind energy.

These green industries, in particular floating wind turbines, are experiencing exponential growth.

“In this context, our group is at the crossroads, with its recognised expertise both in oil and gas, its historic core business, and in the installation of offshore wind turbines, for which it has become a reference,” the CEO concluded.