Harvey Gulf International Marine has taken delivery of a Jones Act-compliant multi-purpose support vessel Harvey Subsea. This is the first of two such vessels expected for delivery to Harvey this year. A sister ship, Harvey Blue-Sea, is scheduled for delivery in July 2017.
The U.S. company has described the new vessel as a “best in class” Jones Act-qualified vessel that has the technical capabilities to “efficiently, effectively and safely perform high quality field development activities that are currently being performed by a foreign fleet.”
The Jones Act, passed in 1920 prevents foreign-flagged ships from shipping merchandise between points in the United States.
The company has been supporting the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) proposal for the Jones Act to cover offshore construction vessels, which have so far been exempted.
To remind, the U.S. Customs and Border protection in mid-January issued a document in which it proposes to revise several rulings and amendments to the Jones Act, which prevents foreign-flagged ships from shipping merchandise within the U.S.
While the foreign-built and flagged ships have been prevented from transporting merchandise between the U.S. coastwise points, over the years some exceptions have been made for construction vessels working in the offshore oil and gas industry.
The foreign construction vessels have been allowed to carry aboard pipeline repair material; anodes; pipeline connectors; wellhead equipment, valves, and valve guards; damaged pipeline; and platform repair material. This was not seen as a Jones Act violation because the goods have been seen as a necessary equipment.
However, if the proposal is materialized, foreign-flagged vessels would not be able to carry any of the “items” listed above, and would be violating law if they did.
Harvey Gulf: End of Debate
Commenting on the vessel delivery, Harvey Gulf also took the chance to give its view on the Jones Act proposal.
The company said: “As U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) finalizes a decision to revoke previous letter rulings inconsistent with the lawful enforcement of the Jones Act that permitted the use of foreign-flag vessels for subsea construction, inspection and maintenance activities, this delivery of the M/V HARVEY SUB-SEA clearly demonstrates the capacity and capability of Jones Act qualified vessels to immediately perform the necessary work.”
This delivery is part of an industry-wide $2 billion investment since 2009 to ensure the Jones Act fleet has capacity to meet the needs of the offshore industry, the company said.
“Today ends the debate as to whether the U.S. Jones Act fleet of MPSV’s is capable of doing work that foreign vessels have been doing illegally in the Gulf for many years. The Harvey Sub-Sea has the size, crane capacity, deck space, accommodation, equipment, and station keeping capability equivalent to, or better than, her foreign competitors,” said Shane Guidry, Chairman and CEO of Harvey Gulf.
“The Harvey Sub-Sea can perform a broad spectrum of subsea installations and removals, inspection, repair and floatel services. It can be equipped to lay umbilicals and cables and perform well-intervention and hydrate remediation operations. If there is a MPSV job needed in the Gulf, she can do it.”
The M/V HARVEY SUB-SEA is a Jones Act compliant 327’ x 73’ x 29’ MPSV, equipped with a 250-ton knuckle boom, heave compensated crane with 4000’ of wire. The crane’s winch is below deck, expanding her lifting capacity and enabling loads of 107 metric tons to be delivered to water depths of 12,000 ft.
The Sub-Sea has 150 berths, all in 1 or 2 person rooms, 13,000 sq. ft. of deck space and a 24’ x 24’moon pool. It has a S61 (Heavy) Helideck and meets ABS DP2, SPS Code and MLC 2006 certification requirements, among many others
IMCA: U.S. fleet not big enough
While Harvey Gulf feels the U.S. has enough Jones Act vessels, International Maritime Contractors Association has issued its own study on the potential impacts of the proposed changes on the marine construction vessel market, in which it has found that, should the changes take effect, this could effectively stop deepwater developments (in the U.S.) because there would be no domestic capacity to install the facilities.
In its recent report, the IMCA found that the U.S. fleet in its current size and capacity is incapable of supporting the deepwater Gulf of Mexico construction market on its own.
“This has always been the case and unlikely to change,” the IMCA said.
The U.S. fleet has been referred to as “coastwise fleet,” while the foreign-flagged ships are “non-coastwise qualified” fleet.
According to the IMCA’s findings, the coastwise fleet cannot meet the needs of the GoM for deepwater construction activities beyond 1,000 meters (3,280 feet).
“There are no coastwise qualified pipelay vessels, no coastwise qualified heavy lift vessels, and only one coastwise qualified well servicing vessel. Despite plenty of opportunity, historically the coastwise sector has not invested in larger, higher value deepwater capable construction and IRM assets outside of the Light Construction Vessel segment,” the IMCA said.
“Should the proposed CBP modifications and revocations take place, the impact on business in the Gulf of Mexico could be catastrophic, simply because there would be no capacity to install the production facilities offshore. The resulting impact on the whole oilfield supply chain in the USA could cause a collapse in industry confidence and countless job losses onshore and offshore. A strategy intended to support a limited number of vessel owners could well have enormous unintended consequences for the whole US offshore oil and gas industry,” the IMCA added.
Offshore Energy Today Staff