A growing global economy has led to a strong demand for oil, with high oil prices as a consequence. The search for new offshore hydrocarbon deposits is therefore more active than ever, and the demand for modern seismographic vessels is booming. While the newbuilding activity for these vessels was nearly non-existent just a couple of years ago, the demand is now very strong.
At present, there are 20 seismographic research ships under construction awaiting DNV classification. In 2004, there was only one.
A huge problem facing the exploration companies is the shipyards' limited newbuilding capacity. To work around this, other types of vessels with high tractive power are being converted into seismographic vessels. While this method is not necessarily less expensive, it enables the vessel to be operative in a considerably shorter time.
In 2006, 10 ships were converted into seismographic vessels and classified by DNV, compared to zero in 2004. Most of the ships were originally cable layers. This year, five conversion projects have been completed and classified by DNV. Another eight vessels are under conversion and awaiting final classification shortly. These boats were mainly fishing vessels.
"It is paramount for the ship owners to obtain the seismographic vessels quickly in order to benefit from the high demand from the oil companies," said Head of Conversions in DNV Maritime Arild Rogne. "Even though rates are currently high, it is hard to predict the market trend and future developments. Thus, newbuildings are a more risky strategy than conversions.
"DNV has classified seismographic vessels since these vessels were introduced and our vast experience and close collaboration with the leading ship owners and designers make us the preferred alternative for many ship owners."
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