Mumbai: State-run Shipping Corp. of India Ltd (SCI) will buy four new offshore supply vessels in a global tender that could cost about Rs 300 crore.
SCI, which is 80.12% owned by the Union government, is seeking vessels used in offshore oil exploration and production activities. These vessels will also be fitted with a Dynamic Positioning 1 system that helps them maintain their position on rough seas. The system is required because much of the oil and gas being discovered in India these days is offshore at depths of 1,200m or more. Being 20-60km away from shore, these vessels must be capable of withstanding rough conditions that changing weather patterns bring.
Domestic shipowners are unable to meet the rising demand for supply vessels from oil explorers and only 30% of the country’s supply vessel needs are met by Indian shipowners.
SCI had earlier floated a tender to buy five new vessels meant to replace older ships in its fleet. However, it has decided to scrap the earlier tender in which Sri Lankan shipbuilder Colombo Dockyard Ltd had emerged the lowest bidder. The new tender is for 80 tonne vessels, up from the 60 tonnes that it had sought before.
Offshore support vessels are typically leased for three to five years, ensuring stable revenue streams for the shipping company that owns them.
The offshore business contributes about Rs75 crore to SCI’s annual profit which stood at Rs1,014.5 crore for 2006-07. The company’s offshore business revenue comes mainly from ONGC, the country’s largest oil and gas exploration firm, which hires these vessels to support its exploration and production needs on the east and west coasts of the country.
Currently, the company has 10 support vessels. These vessels are 22 years old and will have to be decommissioned in about eight years.