Conference news: Opportunities for contractors in saturation diving market

David Sheret presents the outlook for a hotly contested DSV market to OSJ Subsea.

The supply and demand pendulum could be swinging back towards saturating diving contractors after a challenging few years.


That was the message at the OSJ Subsea conference from Archer Knight’s Executive Director David Sheret.


This year’s theme was ‘reshaping the business for a changing seascape’ and he presented our research on DSV fleet activity and utilisation in 2020, as well as the outlook for the year ahead.


David Sheret described the current state of the market as fluid, with supply getting less. Archer Knight research on Western Europe (the largest DSV market) shows utilisation is at 82%, with a higher range for the year of nearly 100% utilisation.


A key change to the market structure in 2021 is the Boskalis Subsea acquisition of Rever Offshore’s subsea services business, which strengthens its positions as a ‘solid top-three player’ and gives it the largest fleet in Western Europe.


Looking ahead, he said there were now prospects for contractors to profit after three or four difficult years.


He said: “The pendulum is swinging back to contractors in terms of supply and demand. There could be opportunities for contractors to look at the most attractive projects.


“From an operators’ perspective, they will be looking to secure supply, put potential agreements in place (which they haven’t needed to do over the past few years) and even entice someone into the regions where there is large demand.”


Looking at the opportunities in more detail, Sheret said the ‘crown jewel’ in Western Europe is DSVi, a multi-operator contract. Although Subsea 7 has held the contract for 12 years, the company could face stern competition from Boskalis Subsea.


Other contracts of interest include who will provide diving services for Chrysaor (soon to be Harbour Energy) following its acquisition of ConocoPhillips assets and a proposed merger with Premier Oil, and the Forties Pipeline Shutdown – which is likely to lead to an increase in vessel demand.


Elsewhere, Sheret said he expected the national oil company (NOC) contracts coming up for renewal in the Middle East to be keenly contested. Meanwhile in Asia, the Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) contract for inspection, repair and maintenance is likely to include greater stipulation for involvement from companies local to the region.


Overall, he said the diving market should continue to grow in 2021, depending on the impacts of the global pandemic.


He added: “It’s a little bit better for contractors. Operators will need to control supply and demand a little bit more and we expect prices to go up.”


David Sheret was speaking alongside expert speakers from Subsea 7, Westwood Global Energy Group and 4Subsea. Analysis of the DSV market was taken from our Flowline SaaS platform.


To access our full report on the saturation diving market, get in touch here.


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