-- FROM THE FULL PICTURE MAGAZINE --
Lauritzen Tankers is determined to grow in the offshore business, based on its
DP expertise. The company is building a small fleet of DP shuttle tankers to move
deepwater oil for Petrobras. These will join the world's first Accommodation & Support
Vessel, Dan Swift – now under construction at Blohm + Voss in Hamburg.
Erik Møller, Fleet Manager, Lauritzen Tankers.
It was April 2009, and the Full Picture magazine came to Copenhagen to visit
the team at Lauritzen Tankers in the midst of an exciting phase for the company.
It has two ships under conversion, one in Poland and one in Germany, and two more
new buildings underway in China, which – combined – mark a new, offshore direction
for a company better known for its fleet of product tankers.
Lauritzen Tankers' fleet manager Erik Møller, projects boss Jo Goksøyr and its
leading DP engineer Per Skriver explained the backbone of the company's foray into
the offshore market: "We would like to create a niche in the offshore market, with
DP boats and shuttle tankers and perhaps some accommodation vessels," said Møller.
As of May 2009, Kongsberg has almost completed one complex delivery for Lauritzen
Tankers: DP, AutoChief and DataChief for the Dan Eagle, which is a product tanker
under conversion to a small shuttle tanker at a shipyard in Poland. The second delivery
– a DP system for a conversion project underway at Blohm + Voss – is in its most
critical phase. Møller winks: "I hope we will succeed and I also hope we will get
some service engineers who are as good as the ones on Dan Eagle."
Looking for opportunity
When Lauritzen Tankers acquired Quantum Tankers in 2004, they absorbed a considerable
amount of expertise in offshore and DP operations. Møller came over to Lauritzen
Tankers with the Quantum Tankers team. Quantum Tankers introduced the first DP shuttle
tanker for use in Brazil in 1998.
Since those days, Brazil has catapulted to the forefront of offshore energy producers,
as its Tupi and Carioca fields dominate industry headlines. Given the deepwater
location of these fields, Brazil has opted to use shuttle tankers to create a floating
pipeline rather than construct an infeasible pipeline on the seabed. Brazil's oil
company, Petrobras, has followed the example of Norway in the North Sea by commissioning
DP bow-loading shuttle tankers.
Lauritzen Tankers is competing with giants like Vancouverbased Teekay and Norway's
Knutsen OAS for this shuttle tanker business with Petrobras. In 2007, Lauritzen
won two twelve-year contracts to provide two DP shuttle tanker new-buildings to
Transpetro, a Petrobras subsidiary. These are now under construction at a shipyard
in China, with delivery due for 2010 and 2011.
Before these shuttle tankers steam for the Santos basin off of Brazil, Lauritzen
Tankers will have completed the conversion of a product tanker called Freja Pacific
to a DP shuttle tanker called Dan Eagle. Kongsberg is heavily involved in work on
Dan Eagle at the Polish shipyard. In describing Kongsberg's effort, Møller said:
"You get this service, and the sense that they are damned professional, those who
are sitting down there on board." He confirms that the ship is due for delivery
The story of the ASV
Dan Swift, under conversion at Blohm+Voss.
Lauritzen Tankers also sees opportunity in the accommodation field, where it
believes DP flotel units could flexibly and costefficiently serve installations
on offshore oil fields worldwide. Thus it has designed the world's first Accommodation
& Support Vessel (ASV) and is building one at the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg,
Germany, by converting a cable-layer. The ship, Dan Swift, will be able to maintain
position in 3 metre significant heights, with dynamic positioning provided by five
azimuth thrusters and three bow thrusters. Telescoping gangways on both port and
starboard sides will provide almost permanent access to working areas for the 250+
that the facility can house.
"It will work as a hotel facility and provide workshops for offshore maintenance
projects," said Møller. "We can overhaul electronic, electric and mechanical equipment
on Dan Swift, and pull over sections to the aft deck and do hot-work. It can supply
power, oil, water and sewage in a hook-up situation. And we have a 100 tonne crane
that can lift modules.
"It can also be used for commissioning and installation in connection with new
fields. We are currently looking at some extensions of fields in Mexico where commissioning
and hook-up of fields is required."
With DP capability, Dan Swift will be able to forgo expensive mooring operations
and move away from the site in the event of tough sea conditions, enhancing its
safety profile. As a result, Lauritzen Tankers sees Dan Swift's greatest potential
in deepwater areas like those off of Brazil, or the Gulf of Mexico.
From the Full Picture's conversation with Erik Møller and Jo Goksøyr
of Lauritzen Tankers:
On the context for converting Dan Swift from a cable-layer to an accommodation
Jo Goksøyr, Projects Manager, Lauritzen Tankers.
Erik Møller: "The whole conversion developed because we were converting a cargo
ship into a passenger ship, at the same time. The result was that all the newest
rules regarding passenger vessels had to be observed, because it was a major conversion.
This is quite comprehensive."
On Lauritzen Tanker's entry into the shuttle tanker market in Brazil
Erik Møller: "We have two newbuildings in Nantong, which are DP shuttle tankers.
We are in strong competition with Knutsen [ed. Knutsen OAS Shipping] and we got
hold of the two 59,000 ton DP-2 shuttle tankers that are in long-term charter to
Transpetro. Petrobras owns Transpetro, which is similar to Navion in the old days.
Knutsen almost secured the two 50,000 tonners, but we came in from the sideline
and got them. Because Transpetro preferred to put their eggs in different baskets
– I think that was the main reason. They nearly only work with Knutsen and Teekay."
Jo Goksøyr: "Petrobras is in the process of building up a fleet of DP-2 or DP tankers
– similar to Norway in the North Sea. And they want conventional tankers assisted
by supply ships. They have switched completely to DP boats with bow loading – exactly
like in the North Sea."
On the technical challenges of Dan Swift
Jo Goksøyr: "It will be launched on May 16. It is the only one in the world with
two gangways. That makes it very flexible in connection with wind and weather. The
DP system can keep the boat in place. In three metre significant wave height, a
wind of 20 meters per second and a two knot current, it can hold its position with
the gangways attached. It is not the DP systems, but the gangways that constitute
the limitations on the boat. They are telescopic gangways. We believe that it is
the most flexible and most efficiently equipped boat."
On how Dan Swift will operate
Erik Møller: "It can provide paint jobs and other things on board, and it can
serve as extended accommodation because it has the fixed gangway. It lies there
with its gangway connected, so that people walk on board to eat because these installations
have very limited accommodation. So they eat and sleep here and work on the platform.
Maybe it can remain there for three or five months, depending on the nature of the
job. There may be occasions where it must de-connect if the weather gets really
tough, but the idea is that it is permanently moored with the gangway permanently
attached. Then they can do and fix things that cannot be done on the installation."
On the value of different resources in a project
Jo Goksøyr: "It is not so much the equipment that is important. It's more that
you get this service and sense that they are damned professional, those who are
sitting down there on board. So it is enormously important that we get the service
engineers we need when we need them, and that they are competent so that we don't
have to watch them all the time."
On manning its offshore DP operations
Erik Møller: "If we take the shuttle tankers first, then we have gathered a crew
that comes from J.J. Ugland and sailed on our boats in Brazil earlier. They chose
to switch over to us and we have not had any problems with those crews. We have
started a training programme for DP officers. All our current seafarers who will
be involved with DP go through a training programme that runs in-house in co-operation
with Trondheim. Some were first re-trained to tankers from reefers and are now being
upgraded to DP advanced and DP basic. The training programme has been running for
the past couple of years. We have procured expertise from the Norwegian DP fleet.
"It is slightly different on Dan Swift. On a shuttle tanker, they both need DP
experience and bow-loading experience. On Dan Swift, it is perhaps easier. There
is another major shipping company in Denmark with a lot of DP supply boats, and
they have been very interested in our new ship. We have had a lot of people from
DP supply boats and DP cable-layers, which have had a base here in Copenhagen, with
Alcatel. It is here we are in the process of gathering a crew of experienced people
for Dan Swift.
"A new project also attracts people because of the technical challenges – many
like that. It is not just sailing from A to B on a bulker or tanker. It's something
new and technically challenging. It has not been a problem to get people."
On Lauritzen's criteria for selecting suppliers
Erik Møller: "Normally, we have a requirement that we must be market leaders,
and that we must provide an enormously good service. It is obvious that when there
are companies we have not dealt with before for a project like Dan Swift, we must
check what type of companies they are. We have felt that even the best can fail.
Some of them did not live up to their promises, but we do not have a certain selection
system. We take those with the best reputation. We don't have very particular requirements
to our suppliers."
On innovation in Lauritzen Tankers
Erik Møller: "Some ideas are created when our CEO Anders Mortensen, Michael,
Jo and I gather to exchange ideas. We cannot implement ideas alone. We must procure
expertise from good seafarers and shipping employees who are closely attached to
us. They are part of our site teams now and take part in the development of the
project. This applies both to the Dan Swift and Dan Eagle. We involve those who
are going to sail on them and they participate in the project and the conversion."