Crew Vessel Contracted to Shell
UK-based crew transfer specialist High Speed Transfers (HST) announced that its second new high-speed crew transfer vessel HST Sofia will be contracted by Shell to support its exploration program in the Black Sea commencing March 2019.
The FCS 2710 vessel, built by Dutch shipbuilder Damen, will be trialed by HST to undertake oil and gas crew transfers to support the Noble Globetrotter II drill ship. The vessel will shortly begin an exploration drilling program in the Khan Kubrat block, around 70 miles south-east of the Bulgarian port of Varna, where the HST Sofia will be based.
Damen said it has long been in discussion with Shell and other oil majors on where and how to change the logistical mix for crew change purposes by accessing Damen’s portfolio of marine access solutions. An intensive, multi-disciplinary research and development program attuned to industry input has resulted in Damen developing vessels that combine increased efficiency and safety with lower costs. HST began discussions via their broker, Clarksons Platou with Shell in mid-2018 regarding a collaboration. This initial pilot assessment of the benefits of reducing dependency on helicopters and larger OSVs to move personnel working on active drilling operations represents a paradigm shift for the oil major. Damen’s R&D department worked with Shell and the classification societies to provide the necessary technical data, and Shell has been closely monitoring the operations of the first FCS 2710, HST Hudson, since it entered service in July 2018.
“This represents potentially a major break-out for vessels of this type, given that their development was focused on serving the offshore renewables sector,” says HST’s managing director Tom Nevin.
“We will also be using local crews,” Nevin said. “They will be experienced in offshore transfers and comprehensively trained on the HST Sofia. Access will be via Frog crew transfer carrier so, as always, safety will be of paramount importance. We have a local partner in G&L Maritime & NMB as our local agents, which has been of huge importance. We will also receive all the technical support we need from Damen Shipyards Mangalia, which is a few hours north of Varna.”
“Our entire portfolio of crew change vessels has been designed in close collaboration with oil companies and operators,” said David Stibbe, Damen’s director of business development. “Our aim has always been to deliver lower cost, safer and more efficient crew changes. The specifications, performance and operational data of the new FCS 2710 provided the evidence needed to initiate this pilot project. ”