Support vessel demand follows tumbling rig count

The U.S. Gulf of Mexico working offshore support vessel (OSV) count plummeted in its most severe decline in recent years.

Twenty-five OSVs in the U.S.Gulf market are seeking work this month, and the outlook for the near-term is not good.Behind the slide in OSV demand is the region’s weakening offshore rig count. While deepwater activity continues at a healthy pace, jackup demand is on the skids. At 37, the number of jackups working in the area is at its lowest level since September 1976.In what could turn out to be a serious understatement, one vessel owner said, “It’s not looking too good.”Owners are looking to other markets for relief, although many vessels may instead be stacked.Some vessel managers are seeing their fleet utilization fall well below 50 percent. One owner told ODS-Petrodata’s The Offshore International Newsletter, “It sucks! Lucky if you can give them away.” The tumble in demand has given operators leverage to drive down prices. One of the region’s boat managers commented, “It’s the same as last year in February. A lot of uncertainty. A lot of operators are holding back on contracts, and going with spot work, because they can get them for next to nothing with no commitment.”

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