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Sherpa Offshore: Gas-powered OSVs “make sense”

Singapore: Denis Welch, a well-known face in the Asian shipyard scene, is now on a mission to develop gas powered OSVs specifically for the Asian region. Welch, who quit as ceo for Southeast Asia for Dutch yard group IHC Merwede in February, reckons this new ship type will make economic and environmental sense and could bring energy producers and offshore service providers closer together.

To this end, Welch has founded Sherpa Offshore which aims to to provide unaligned expert support from concept to operation of these new ships. The plan is to carry out a feasibility study, then proceed with newbuild supervision and finally to operate these new vessels on behalf of clients. “No one is doing all these three things,” Welch says.

Welch, who previously headed up Dubai Drydocks Southeast Asian yards, notes there are seven gas fields in operation in Australia, three in Malaysia and another three in Indonesia, providing a rich start for this new vessel type.

“Natural gas is coming like an express train to Asia,” Welch says.

He notes how the rate of increase in Asian energy growth is outstripping population growth for the first time. “Asia will be powered by gas in the future,” he asserts.

Scrubbing technology will not work on OSVs, Welch reckons. “Gas makes sense for oil majors,” he says.

There are currently around 50 gas-powered OSVs operating at the moment, mainly in Norwegian waters. [25/03/14]


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