Having launched the €2.6bn megaship ‘Pioneering Spirit’ earlier this year, Edward Heerema, founder and owner of offshore company Allseas, is going ahead with the development of an even-larger offshore vessel ‘Amazing Grace’, the Financieele Dagblad said on Wednesday.
‘We meet to go over plans for the new ship every week,’ Heerema told the paper in Rotterdam earlier this week.
Both vessels are designed to lay pipeline as well as to install and dismantle offshore oil and gas platforms. Because of their sheer size, they can offer economies of scale that others cannot. But because of their sheer size they have to be employed nearly continuously.
The ‘Pioneering Spirit’ can lift 48,000 tonnes, while the lifting capacity of ‘Amazing Grace’ will be 72,000 tonnes. The new ship will be 160 metres wide compared to the Pioneering Spirit’s 124 metres.
Heerema says it will take 15 to 18 years to earn back the investment in the Pioneering Spirit. ‘We have been lucky in landing several major contracts already,’ he explained. ‘But you build these ships to last at least 30 years.’
Allseas has two important pipeline contracts. One is for Turk Stream in the Black Sea, the other for Nord Stream in the Baltic. ‘Similar contracts come about only every 15 years or so . We won the contacts because only the ‘Pioneering Spirit’ was capable of laying the pipeline so quickly and so deep at the bottom of the sea,’ he said.
Observers question the timing of Edward Heerema’s investment when the offshore industry is in a slump. The low crude oil price is forcing oil giants to postpone investments.
‘Oil and gas shall certainly be very necessary for energy production for the next 20 to 30 years. And after dismantling two oil platforms the Pioneering Spirit will install its first platform for Statoil next year,’ the Allseas chief told the FD.