US-based owner Seacor has decided to fit battery-based hybrid energy storage systems on several of its vessels
As highlighted on a number of occasions by OSJ, despite the difficult nature of the offshore support vessel market, a growing number of owners are fitting ships with environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient hybrid energy storage systems.
The latest company to do so is Seacor Marine Holdings, which has formed a joint company with COSCO Shipping Group that plans to acquire and operate eight platform supply vessels (PSVs).
The company, SEACOSCO Offshore LLC, will be a jointly owned Marshall Islands company and has entered into contracts for the acquisition of eight Rolls-Royce designed PSVs from COSCO Heavy Industry in China. Six of the PSVs are of UT 771WP design, and two are of UT 771CD design.
SEACOSCO will take title to seven of the PSVs in 2018 and one in 2019. Thereafter, the shipyard, at their cost, will store the PSVs for six to 18 months. The storage period can be shortened by mutual agreement.
SEACOSCO has contracted with Rolls-Royce Marine to outfit six of the PSVs with a battery energy storage system designed to reduce fuel consumption and enhance the safety and redundancy of the vessels. This follows Seacor Marine’s recent order for battery energy storage systems on four large PSVs in Mexico.
The delivery includes energy storage container systems for the vessel, an upgrade of the existing Rolls-Royce ship design engineering package to match the new features, an upgrade of the dynamic positioning system and ACON control system on the vessels and a new Rolls-Royce energy monitoring system, which will provide a complete overview of energy usage on board.
Seacor Marine’s chief executive John Gellert said “We are excited to partner with COSCO Shipping Group. We are confident that we have structured a transaction that meets the needs of the shipyard while also managing the cash outlay from the equity owners.
“The vessels will modernise our fleet and expand our offerings to our customers. Combining a proven and advanced design, best in category accommodation and the innovative Rolls-Royce battery system, these vessels will be highly marketable across all major offshore energy regions worldwide.”
SEACOSCO will be funded 30% with equity and 70% with debt financing secured by the PSVs on a non-recourse basis to the equity owners. Aggregate total consideration for the eight PSVs, including the battery system, is approximately US$161.1M.
Seacor Marine’s total cash outlay is approximately US$22.4M, with approximately US$20.0M payable in Q1 2018 and the balance due over the next 14 months as vessels and the Rolls-Royce battery equipment are delivered. Seacor Marine will be responsible for commercial, operational and technical management of the vessels on a worldwide basis under a separate management agreement with SEACOSCO.
In a related deal, Kongsberg has secured a contract to upgrade a further three PSVs owned by Mantenimiento Express Marítimo SAPI de CV (Mexmar), Seacor Marine’s joint venture in Mexico. The contract follows a September 2017 deal for the same upgrade package on Seacor Maya.
Under the new contract, Kongsberg will deliver and install a hybrid power and dynamic positioning upgrade designed to significantly enhance energy efficiency on board the three PSVs Seacor Azteca, Seacor Warrior and Seacor Viking.
With Seacor Maya’s conversion starting this month and the follow-up vessel conversions expected to be completed by July 2018, Mexmar will soon be the only PSV owner in the Americas able to help its clients meet strict environmental regulations for decreasing CO2, NOx and SOx emissions.
Safety concerns – is the industry doing enough?
As more vessels enter service with battery-based energy systems, so questions have sometimes been asked about safety concerns surrounding the use of lithium energy storage systems.
PBES’s director of marketing Grant Brown told OSJ “The technology has proven itself reliable and powerful. However, safety concerns still linger and should be kept at the utmost of considerations for this new technology. Not all battery systems are equipped with the same safety systems. Testing and certification for battery systems has increased, but there is room to raise the bar,” he said, citing concerns about thermal runaway, which OSJ will examine in more detail in the near future.