Vessel Contractors Reshape for the Rebound

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McDermott acquired the Ceona Amazon at a bargain price of USD 52 million from Ceona, an 85% discount from its newbuild cost of USD 350 million. Source: Ceona.
Editor’s Note

McDermott reported the acquisition of the Ceona Amazon last month, built by the Lloyd Werft yard in Bremerhaven, Germany, for USD 52 million and changed its name to Amazon. Ceona, which paid USD 350 million for the newbuild vessel, went into insolvency in September 2015. The vessel went into layup immediately upon delivery from the shipbuilder in 2015.

The Amazon is a deepwater pipelay and construction vessel, equipped with 49,514 ft2 of deck space with two 440-ton cranes, a service speed of 12 knots, and accommodation for up to 200 crew and service staff. McDermott plans to upgrade the vessel with a state-of-the-art J-lay system to increase its subsea umbilicals, risers, and flowlines capabilities in ultradeepwater projects. The vessel is en route to the Middle East and is scheduled to arrive this month and expected to be ready to work on current projects in April.

McDermott said the acquisition aligns with its strategy to expand its ultradeepwater work. Almost 60% of all conventional oil and gas discoveries from 2005–2014 were in ultradeepwater, and 60% of all offshore growth is expected to be in ultradeepwater, according to the company.

The announcement of EMAS Chiyoda’s bankruptcy is the latest in a long line of vessel contractors to fall victim to the downturn since January 2015. Multiple companies such as Cal Dive, Ceona, Cecon, Hercules Offshore, Harkand, and Swiber have entered into administration, taking a significant number of vessels out of the active fleet. In other cases, internal restructuring measures (e.g., Siem Offshore, Boa Offshore, and Deepocean) were/have been in order. While current indicators of subsea activity such as subsea tree orders remain weak, industry sentiment is improving, with oil prices approximately 76% higher this February relative to the average WTI recorded last February.

With a market equilibrium and a recovery in sight, 2017 represents an opportune time for substantial industry consolidation and opportunistic vessel acquisitions to support long-term business strategy objectives. For example, McDermott’s recent acquisition of the newbuild Ceona Amazon at a significant 77% discount to the reported build cost, will serve to strengthen and rejuvenate its subsea fleet, putting the company one step closer to their ultradeepwater expansion strategy.

The recent downturn has been one of the most trying times in the history of the subsea industry. However, the removal of noncompetitive low-spec vessels and strategic moves by vessel contractors to acquire high-spec vessels at discount rates, will find them well-positioned to capitalize as the market continues to stabilize.