FAVERSHAM, UK – Liftboats are gaining in popularity in the oil and gas industry, says Douglas-Westwood analyst Calum Shaw. Since breaking out of the Gulf of Mexico, the global fleet of these self-propelled, self-elevating vessels has grown by over a third and now stands at more than 300 units worldwide.
“They are now tried and trusted in West Africa, the Persian Gulf, and the North Sea,” Shaw said. “In southeast Asia, they are finally gaining a foothold with key operators. Unlike immobile jackup barges, liftboats offer more, typically performing well intervention, maintenance, and installation workscopes. They are now being used for offshore EOR campaigns, and we would not be surprised to see a growth in such deployments.
“Here at DW, we have been monitoring the oil and gas liftboat markets, and, as a conservative forecast, we expect the demand for liftboats outside the Gulf of Mexico to increase by more than 3,500 days over 2014-2018. A number of factors will contribute to this, the two most important being their improved specifications and the increased recognition from operators of the value that liftboats represent.”
Shaw noted that, with the latest generation of liftboats offering increased water-depth capabilities, they are able to access an increasing proportion of existing fixed platforms.
“The increased deck space they offer enables them to carry more equipment, such as coiled tubing or chemicals for well intervention work,” Shaw said. “Here, their value is underlined by Halliburton’s decision to invest in a fleet of five for its Gulf of Mexico slickline services. But, arguably, the biggest factor behind the increase in demand will be the attitude of E&P operators who are renowned for their conservatism; their aim in the race for new approaches is usually to finish second. However, despite this, liftboats have broken through. And demand is growing.”