Winning the award for Shipowner of the Year sponsored by V.Ships Offshore at the 2019 Offshore Support Journal Conference & Awards in London was Seacor Marine Holdings.
Seacor was shortlisted by the judges because of its active and early investments in hybrid technology. The group has set out an ambitious goal that, by the end of this year, it will have the largest fleet of hybrid vessels anywhere in the world.
In addition to having converted two of its own PSVs to battery hybrid power, through Seacor's joint ventures in Mexico and China, the company will operate 12 battery hybrid-powered vessels, which includes four PSVs contracted to operate in the Gulf of Mexico and eight PSVs for worldwide operations.
Accepting the award, Seacor chief executive John Gellert – who also received the OSJ Industry Leader 2019 award – said “I’d like to thank the judging committee, thank everyone for this recognition. And I think, as you heard tonight, it’s a team effort. A lot of people from Seacor, the new company, Rolls-Royce and Corvus. We’ve also used Kongsberg – we’re non-denominational. So it was a group effort. We’re very excited about batteries and about the future, and as you mentioned, eight vessels are available – anyone looking for charters, they’re awaiting opportunity. So we’d like to thank you as we look forward to 2019 and 2020.”
During a long-term evaluation of hybrid propulsion technology and its applications, Seacor took an active role in the 2015 DNV GL-managed joint industry project (JIP) 'Opportunities and Barriers in Maritime for Hybrid Electric Power for Backup and Propulsion,' which aimed to solidify the next steps toward widespread utilisation of battery hybrid power in the offshore oil and gas sector.
Through its participation, Seacor validated the conclusions of the study on a cost-benefit basis for its operations. Using one of its own vessels as a source of data for the joint study with DNV GL, Seacor said the vessel, now in service, is making savings that are in line with the JIP.
And while Seacor’s current retrofit projects will bring 12 energy-efficient, lower-emissions vessels to the market, the company intends to go even further in adopting hybrid technology.
Seacor representatives have said they believe the decision to invest in hybrid technology is an advantage and makes a statement about Seacor's outlook to the future. The company says it has seen greater interest from charterers, with some specifically asking for hybrid power now, in particular, those in the North Sea.
In a crowded field, nominees were shortlisted and industry voting determined winners for categories including support vessel of the year, shipowner of the year, innovation of the year, outstanding contributions in the area of environmental practices, offshore renewables, subsea innovation, dynamic positioning, safety, industry leadership and Offshore Support Journal's award for a lifetime's achievement.