Bibby Ship Management (BSM) states that it has seen a 20 percent increase in service inquiries from the offshore sector as ship owners and support vessel operators look to reduce costs and recruit the best crews for their vessels.
The company believes that the increase has been fuelled in part by a move by oil majors to reduce their costs in the aftermath of the slump in oil prices, while still expecting high quality support vessel operations from ship owners who service their offshore supply needs.
Andrew Rodden, the Aberdeen-based regional managing director for the UK and the Isle of Man, for BSM said owners were now looking at the economies of scale that ship managers can offer. “There is a calculable commercial advantage to be made and there is a partnership between owner and manager which can benefit and improve the overall quality of the service delivered to the oil company,” he said.
“Support vessel owners are operating in very high cost areas such as Aberdeen and Oslo and many are now looking to see if they can introduce cost savings without jeopardising the level of service. They are looking carefully at the OpEx of their vessels to see if they can save money from the crew employment perspective. We had one enquiry from an owner who traditionally employed high cost officers and who is now open to alternatives to man his ships while retaining their focus on quality.”
The drive to improve cost efficiencies is not just limited to the North Sea offshore sector, other high cost operators are being pressurised to cut costs while maintaining operating efficiency.
“The oil majors are all trying to reduce costs with the consequence that this has a knock-on effect on industries they work with. There will be a drive within shipping to reduce costs to meet the requirements of the client. This will be a challenge in a traditionally low margin, highly competitive market where rates are driven by capacity. If owners can do this effectively then they will get more work so we are seeing a clear commercial benefit to ship owners to find effective strategies to drive their costs down,” said Rodden.
Considering the effect of the fall in the global oil price, Rodden added: “Offshore is quite a big catchall, but I think you’ll see a huge impact in terms of utilisation for the higher costs vessel areas such as diving support vessels and pipe laying vessels. So markets like the North Sea could experience quite a significant impact this year. We believe that there is still a solid platform supply vessel (PSV) market, which will remain so moving forward. The key to success in this market will be where owners can demonstrate value for money to secure continued work through 2015.”