Swedish shipowner Floatel International believes demand in the oil and gas market will "come back", as it prepares to take delivery of its fifth accommodation vessel from a unit of Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M).
"Obviously today, the market is going through some tough times," Floatel chief executive Peter Jacobsson told The Straits Times yesterday, after a naming ceremony of the vessel. "Lots of projects are being pushed or delayed, but they're still there. We may go through one or two years now, with the trough in the market, but we believe (a recovery) will come."
Keppel O&M managing director Wong Kok Seng said at the event that Keppel Fels, the shipbuilding arm of the offshore and marine company, is on track to deliver the vessel, named Floatel Triumph, "on time, on budget and with a perfect safety record".
He added: "Our yards remain busy for the rest of the year, with a number of deliveries in the pipeline.
"As we ride through this challenging period in the offshore and marine industry, we continue to work closely with our quality customers to ensure that we deliver projects to their highest satisfaction."
The Floatel Triumph, built to one of Keppel's proprietary designs, will be chartered by Inpex Australia for work in the Ichthys gas field development off Western Australia for at least two years.
Keppel Fels has previously delivered two similar accommodation ships, Floatel Reliance and Floatel Victory, to Floatel. Floatel Victory is in operations for BP at the Clair Ridge field development off Britain, while Floatel Reliance recently completed its contract with Petrobras in Brazil.
Another two vessels, also for the same client, have been chartered to Premier Oil for work in Britain's Solan field and Chevron in Australia's Wheatstone gas project.
Mr Jacobsson said Floatel is still seeing strong demand and high utilisation rates for its vessels in spite of the challenging environment.
Citing an energy market research and consulting services firm, he noted that the annualised growth rate in the offshore accommodation market will remain at 3 per cent from 2015 to 2020.
"In the current oil price environment, sustaining production levels is key for oil companies, and accommodation units are required as they reduce downtime during periods of essential maintenance."
Mr Jacobsson added that the group will be well-placed to take advantage of the upturn when it comes. "Some of the competition (against our vessels) are very old, being built in the 80s, and we believe there will be a generation change," he said.
"We're not placing a new order now, but we haven't ruled out (the possibility) of coming back (to Keppel) in one or two years' time."