Tuesday, June 6, 2000

Offshore services firms
build up for deepwater

Hornbeck Offshore Services, a unit of Hornbeck-Leevac Marine Services, Mandeville, La., says it has commenced a newbuilding program "to significantly increase the size of its seven-vessel, state-of-the-art OSV fleet." It has signed a contract with Leevac Shipyards for construction of two ultra deepwater vessels with four to follow. The first will be delivered in February 2001. All are expected to be completed within the next 20 months.

MarineLog.com understands the new boats will be 260-280 ft platform support vessels in the $18 million to $20 million a copy price range.

In Norway, Havila Supply ASA -- in co-operation Borgstein AS, Langsten Slip & Baatbyggeri AS and others-- has established Island Offshore II. This new company has contracted an UT 722L anchorhandling vessel for delivery in May 2001. Havila Supply, which owns 26.1% of Island Offshore II , will operate the vessel.

The vessel will be fitted with a 500 tonne winch and wilth dynamic positioning. It will also be fitted out to carry out tasks called for in a framework agreement between Havila Supply ASA and Alcatel Kabel Norge AS.

The contract value is NOK 270 million (about $31 million).

Havila says that "with the expectations that exist in the offshore market," it tconsider the newbuilding contract "of strategic importance in order to be a major player in deepwater operations. "

In a parallel move, Island Offshore II is purchasing Havila Supply ASA's fully owned vessel "Havila Hidra" for NOK 165 million (about $19 million), with a five year bareboat back agreement. Havila Supply ASA has an option to buy the vessel back after two years. This vessel is a UT 745 built in 1999, and on contract to Statoil until February 2002.

The sale gives Havila Supply a liquidity gain of abt NOK 58 million (about $6.6 million) and a negative effect on the balance sheet of about NOK 9.2 million (about $1.05 million).

Tidewater buying platform support vessel
Tidewater Inc.has entered into a Letter of Intent to purchase the M/V Ace Navigator from the Sanko Steamship Co., Ltd., of Tokyo, Japan, for $22,500,000. The deals expected to close in July 2000.

The October 1999-built Ace Navigator is a UT 745 design platform supply vessel capable of working in both harsh weather and deepwater. The vessel is 275-feet in length, is rated at 9600 brake horsepower (BHP), and has full dynamic positioning capabilities.

William C. O'Malley, Tidewater's chairman, president and CEO describes the Ace Navigator as "a very large, state-of-the-art vessel that is in increasing demand in the offshore services business.''

PricewaterhouseCoopers to manage PacifiCat sale
BC Ferries has retained PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to advise and assist in selling its Pacificat fast ferries. For technical support, PricewaterhouseCoopers has, in turn, retained JJMA Inc., one of the world's largest marine engineering and naval architecture firms. JJMA was hired by the Crown Corporation Secretariat in 1999 to provide an independent technical assessment of the PacifiCat hulls. JJMA's team leader for the assessment is a member of the PricewaterhouseCoopers' team.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLPhas extensive experience selling unique capital assets in the world's markets. The company's sales experience in the marine transportation sector includes both public and privately owned assets including fast ferries, conventional ferries, other marine vessels, shipping and shipbuilding organizations, and port facilities.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is responsible for developing and implementing a marketing and sales strategy to obtain the best market value for the PacifiCats through a fair and appropriate process.

The firm describes itself as "the world's largest professional services organization," with 750 people in B.C. and more than 150,000 people working in 150 countries around the world.

Iran reportedly allows Iraqi oil in its sea lanes
Today's LA Times reports U.S. officials as saying that Iran has opened its protected sea lanes to dozens of ships carrying illegal shipments of Iraqi oil in violation of U.N. sanctions on Saddam Hussein's government.

For about two months, Iran had refused to allow ships carrying contraband Iraqi oil to sail along its coastline beyond the reach of U.N. and U.S. ships deployed to enforce the embargo. But last Thursday, says the LA Times, a wave of oil-laden ships moved into Iranian waters in what one senior U.S. official likened to "a jailbreak."

 "There was a huge backlog of ships full of smuggled oil that couldn't move into the [Persian] Gulf because Iran had kept them bottled up," said the official"Then, suddenly, on Thursday they all set sail."

U.S. officials said they are mystified by Iran's apparent policy shift, noting that Tehran had been widely lauded for the spirit of cooperation it displayed over the previous two months.

After the ships were detected in Iran's sea lanes Thursday, says the newspaper, the United States and other countries made urgent appeals to Tehran through diplomatic channels to stop the traffic.

Those requests were confirmed yesterday by Iran's Foreign Ministry.
"They informed us that one or two ships had been seized, and asked us to seize the rest. We passed the information immediately to our military authorities, as it is our policy to seize all vessels carrying Iraqi oil," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told The LA Times.

Zarif said about two dozen ships were involved. American officials, however, said the figure is considerably higher.  The problem for Iran involves logistics, not political will, said Zarif, citing the more than 600 miles of Iranian coastline along the gulf.

According to U.S. officials, the illegal oil shipments are now passing through Iranian waters with no apparent impediments, says the LA Times story. The ships involved are flying the flags of Russia, Honduras, Belize, Panama and some Mideast countries. As long as they remain within 12 miles of Iran's coastline, says the LA Times story, they are outside the jurisdiction of U.N. and U.S. ships enforcing the embargo.

To avoid the U.N. blockade, sanctions-busting ships have loaded oil in the Iraqi port of Abu Flus, then sailed through the narrow Shatt al Arab waterway to the gulf, according to U.S. officials. Before entering the gulf, the ships passed through a checkpoint run by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who charged a fee based on the quantity of oil the ships were carrying, U.S. officials contend. That practice was halted two months ago when Iran decided to shut down the coastal smuggling route, but it appears to have resumed, U.S. officials told the LA Times.

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