At the time this article was being written, almost 45 per cent of the purpose built crew transfer vessels in the offshore wind industry were owned or operated by eleven British companies and one Anglo-Dutch company, with 74 of the vessels owned or operated by one of two companies, Turbine Transfers Ltd. and Windcat Workboats.
Turbine Transfers is a wholly owned subsidiary of Holyhead Towing Company, based in Holyhead, Anglesey, and Windcat Workboats, Europe’s largest crew transfer vessel operator, is today owned by the American SEACOR Marine Group, operators of a fleet of offshore marine support vessels, serving the offshore oil and gas exploration and production industry, and now the wind sector, with offices in IJmuiden and Lowestoft.
The remaining ten companies account for almost 25 per cent of the purpose built vessels in this sector.
For the amount of offshore wind projects planned to start in the next twelve months, it is expected that there will need to be at least another twenty vessels in operation over and above the 400 plus crew transfer vessels listed in the new edition of the Offshore WIND Vessel Directory due to be published in June this year. The catch words here are, of course, “projects planned to start.”
Just as in every previous time when the industry has been working flat out on construction projects and the vessel utilisation requirement rate was above 100 per cent of the existing fleet, vessels that are not built for this purpose will be pressed into action for the less demanding work. Before then, we have to get vessels back to work after a ‘not very busy winter’ 2015-2016 and also survive another possible low key winter 2016-2017.
This means that the possibility is great that the list of companies in our vessel directory next year will be different to this year’s list.
Only time will tell whether the business model that succeeds will be a small company with low overheads surviving or a large company that is able to squeeze the market.
There are already different business models employed by some vessel operators. Some of them do not consider their company to be just a crew transfer vessel operator. They now offer staff and technicians for installation and O&M tasks, with their vessels integrated in the contract for getting them to the offshore wind turbines.
This article is only a small part of Offshore WIND’s crew transfer vessel story, which can be read in the second 2016 edition of the Offshore WIND Magazine.