IMCA published a ‘Global Specialist Offshore Support Vessel Market Overview’ report highlighting the risks to the US offshore energy industry, should the crewing legislation, referred to as the American Offshore Workers Fairness Act, be passed into law by the US Senate.
According to the report, the demand for all categories of offshore construction vessels is growing significantly and is starting to outstrip supply in certain areas. Rates are increasing rapidly, and vessel owners/contractors are selecting only the most favourable regions and projects to work.
Specialist offshore construction vessels are critical to the security of supply of deepwater oil and gas in the US GOM. Similarly, without access to international specialist construction vessels President Biden’s objective of 30GW of offshore wind by 2030 will not be possible.
In heavy construction rigid pipelay, flexlay/cable lay and heavy lifting there are no US coastwise vessels capable of performing the work and none being built. In offshore wind there are no coastwise Heavy lift vessels nor cable installation vessels capable of performing the required work today and none planned to be built. Only one US coastwise WTIV has been ordered and largely due to the global market use of this type of specialist vessel and the costs to build one in the US that would be limited to only US work, it is unclear if there will be more orders.
In the LCV market, developers are for the most part deploying US vessels even though foreign vessels can perform this work. For the most part the foreign LCVs that are being deployed are owned by Jones Act owners and operators.
In the Survey/Seismic/Geotechnical segments while there are a small number of coastwise vessels existing or being built this is unlikely to fulfil demand. In addition, decisions as to whether use a foreign or US vessel are often driven by global need and availability and the lack of experienced US scientific personnel to crew these vessels and under current law no foreign citizens are allowed to work aboard a U.S. vessel.
The huge demand for US mariners, crew, and technicians to safely operate these vessels is materially undersupplied and there are not enough training programs and other initiatives underway to resolve this in the short term.
This will be particularly true for the emerging SOV market because this work must be accomplished by coastwise qualified vessels requiring all US crew. Similarly, while not specifically categorized in this report, the offshore wind market should drive the need for coastwise CTVs and thus the demand for more qualified mariners.
Increasing demand for the development of offshore energy sources is clear for all to see, in both the offshore wind and offshore oil and gas industries. The international fleet of construction vessels and their crew will be essential to meet national energy goals and the proposed crewing legislation will severely degrade the pace of development in the U.S.
Allen Leatt, IMCA’s CEO, explained.
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