As the name suggests, Heavy Lift is the process of lifting and installing offshore structures and equipment. Offshore structures can be very large in size and dimensions, with the record of offshore single heavy-lift being done by the Heerema’s Sleipnir crane vessel, in 2019, lifting a Noble Energy’s Leviathan topside of 15,300 tons.
Heavy Lift ( installation) can be divided into two distinct categories: 1) Lifting by a crane installed on a barge/vessel and 2) Float-over installation.
With the crane-lifting process, a barge/vessel is used to transport a structure or equipment to the location and a heavy lift crane installed on a barge/vessel to lift and install at the location. Modular lifts operations are used whereby pieces of equipment/structure installed in modules. Heavy lift vessels range in crane capacity and range from 200t to 14,000 tons (Saipem 7000 and Heerema's Thialf).
Image Courtesy: Saipem, Saipem 7000 vessel
The float-over installation method is very different from the crane installation. This method is fairly new and becoming more common. The basic principle behind this method is utilization of a special semisubmersible vessel/barge that to transport the equipment to the location (submerge the vessel under the water to load the structure on board the vessel) position the structure over the substructure as required and install. Afterwards, the vessels are remerged and can sail away. These type of vessels have special characteristics such as 1) Narrow deck, 2) Open stern to leave the substitute 3) Submerge and reemerge 4) Strong enough to hold a structure. One of the great advantage of the float-over the installation method is almost no restriction on the weight of the structure to be lifted/installed.
Image Courtesy: gCaptain
Heavy lift vessels are also commonly called HLVs.
Supply & Demand Dynamics
Supply & Demand Dynamics
The demand for heavy lift vessels is directly affected by offshore project developments in the oil and gas industry. In addition, offshore wind industry and global communication infrastructure (cable-laying) are significant users of heavy-lift crane vessels too but do not require large crane capacity. Yet, there are not too many vessels that are used by both industries interchangeably. Offshore wind industry tends to have purpose-built wind turbine installation vessels.
The oil and gas industry requires large-size vessels and on many occasions, the design and size of offshore facilities are constrained by the vessel(s) available.
Offshore wind energy tends to use vessels that can transport, lift and install – which means large deck and fairly big crane. The largest vessel (yet to be built as of Q2 2020) is 5,000 tons, whereas in the oil and gas industry a 5,000-ton lift is fairly common. On average, 1,500 to 3,000-tonne crane vessel is suitable for a large majority of wind installations offshore.
Decommissioning of offshore platforms in the oil and gas industry is another significant demand driver. Due to technical aspects, very often platforms are removed as a “single piece”, hence tend to be very heavy and require a large lifting capacity.
The demand patterns for super heavy lift vessels and “normal” heavy lift vessels are fairly different too, whereby globally there are only 3 super heavy lift vessels with a lifting capacity of above 10,000 ton and multiple normal HLVs with lifting capacity below 3,000 tons.
The market for heavy lift and installation vessels is geographically clustered, with a fairly large majority of vessels used only in certain parts of the world due to 1) Water depth and size of projects/facilities, 2) Transit distance and time and 3) Weather windows. Yet, there are vessels that a “global” or cover wider geography and used for multiple purposes globally. Generally, those vessels tend to be with lower crane capacity (below 3,000 ton).
In addition, HLV vessels are generally owned by companies who specialize in marine installation and transportation business only, with very few EPC contractors who own HLVs.
The following companies and contractors currently operate Heavy Lift vessels around the world. The below list of HLVs consists of various type of vessels, i.e. dedicated crane vessels / floating cranes, multipurpose vessels with large cranes. The Heavy Lift vessels count is as of August 2020
|Owner / Operator||Vessel Name||Current Location||Max Lifting Capacity (t)|
|Sapura Energy & L&T||LTS3000||South East Asia||2,722|
|Sapura Energy & L&T||SAPURA 3500||South America||3,500|
|Sapura Energy & L&T||SAPURA 1200||South East Asia||1,200|
|Sapura Energy & L&T||SAPURA 3000||South East Asia||3,000|
|Sapura Energy & L&T||SAPURA 2000||South America||2,000|
|Sapura Energy & L&T||SAPURA 900||West Africa||900|
|Subsea 7||Seaway Yudin||South East Asia||2,500|
|Subsea 7||Seaway Strashnov||North Sea||5,000|
|Subsea 7||Seven Champion||Middle East||2,200|
|Subsea 7||Seven Arctic||North Sea||1,000|
|Subsea 7||Seven Pegasus||Gulf of Mexico||400|
|Subsea 7||Seven Borealis||North Sea||5,000|
|Subsea 7||Seven Seas||South America||400|
|Subsea 7||Seven Waves||South America||400|
|Boskalis||Bokalift 1||North Sea||3,000|
|Boskalis||Giant 7||North Sea||600|
|Boskalis||Taklift 4||Baltic Sea||2,200|
|Boskalis||Asian Hercules II||South East Asia||3,200|
|Boskalis||Asian Hercules III||South East Asia||5,000|
|Boskalis||Taklift 7||South East Asia||1,200|
|Uknown / Boskalis||Taklift 6||North Sea||1,200|
|Boskalis||Smit Borneo||Indian Coast||500|
|Technip FMC||GLOBAL 1200||South East Asia||1,200|
|Uknown||GLOBAL 1201||South East Asia||1,200|
|McDermott||DERRICK BARGE 27||Arabian Gulf||2,177|
|McDermott||DERRICK BARGE 30||Arabian Gulf||2,794|
|McDermott||DERRICK BARGE 50||Gulf of Mexico||3,991|
|McDermott||DERRICK BARGE 32||unknown||1,650|
|McDermott||DLV 2000||South America||2,000|
|Saipem||SAIPEM 7000||North Sea||14,000|
|Saipem||Saipem 3000||West Mediterranean||2,400|
|Saipem||Castorro II||Arabian Gulf||998|
|Saipem||DeHe 5000||Arabian Gulf||5,000|
|Saipem||Saipem Constellation||North Sea||3,000|
|Saipem||Normand Maximus||East Mediterranean||900|
|NPCC||DELMA 2000 (Sampson)||MIddle East||1,600|
|NPCC||DLS 4200||Arabian Gulf||4,200|
|COEEC Subsea||Hai Yang Shi You 286||South China||400|
|COEEC Subsea||Hai Yang Shi You 202||West Africa||1,200|
|COEEC Subsea||Bin Hai 108||Bohai Sea||900|
|COEEC Subsea||Lan Jiang||Arabian Gulf||3,800|
|Heerema||Balder||Gulf of Mexico||6,300|
|Allseas||Pioneering Spirit||North Sea||48,000|
|EMAS||Lewek Crusader||West Africa||400|
|EMAS||Lewek Champion||Middle East||900|
|Telford Offshore||Telford - 34||Gulf of Mexico||800|
|Telford Offshore||Telford - 25||South East Asia||800|
|SAL Heavy Lift||MV Svenja||Global||2,000|
|SAL Heavy Lift||MV Annegret||Global||2,000|
|SAL Heavy Lift||MV Lone||Global||2,000|
|SAL Heavy Lift||MV Annette||Global||700|
|Guangzhou Salvage Bureau||Hua Tian Long||South China||4,000|
|Guangzhou Salvage Bureau||NAN TIAN PENG||South China||500|
|China Yantai||DE FU 3600||South East Asia||3,600|
|China Yantai||YAN JIU QI ZHONG 2 HAO||Unknown||700|
|GeoSea / Deme||Orion||Gulf of Mexico||3,000|
|OOS-International||OOS WALCHEREN||Ready in Q3 2020||4,400|
|OOS-International||OOS SEROOSKERKE||Ready in Q3 2020||4,400|
|OOS-International||OOS Gretha||South America||3,600|
|OOS-International||OOS PROMETHEUS||Сhina coast||1,100|
|Jumbo Offshore vof||Fairplayer||Global||1,800|
|Scaldis Salvage||Rambiz||North Sea||3,000|
|Scaldis Salvage||Gulliver||North Sea||4,000|
|Valentine Marine||DLB 1600||Middle East||1,600|
|Grupo Protexa||Huasteco||Gulf of Mexico||1,800|
|Goliath Offshore Holdings||NOR Goliath||Gulf of Mexico||2,000|
|COES||Wei Li||China Coast||3,000|
|COES||Ju Li||China Coast||700|
|COES||Da Li||China Coast||2,500|
|COES||Chuang Li||China Coast||4,500|
|Fukada Salvage and Marine||Musashi||Japan, Uknonwn||3,700|
|Fukada Salvage and Marine||Fuji||Japan, Uknonwn||3,000|
|Fukada Salvage and Marine||Suruga||Japan, Uknonwn||2,200|
|Fukada Salvage and Marine||Kongo||Japan, Uknonwn||2,050|
|Fukada Salvage and Marine||Izu||Japan, Uknonwn||700|
|Fukada Salvage and Marine||Yamato||Japan, Uknonwn||700|
|Yorigami Maritime Construction||Kaisho||Japan, Uknonwn||4,100|
|Yorigami Maritime Construction||YOUSHO||Japan, Uknonwn||4,000|
|Yorigami Maritime Construction||SHINSHO-1600|
Over the years, the market went through various cycles of consolidation, growth and bankruptcies. There is a solid segmentation in the market, between global and regional players, as well as fully integrated and not. Below is the list of major operators who provide Heavy Lift Services primarily using the crane installation method, i.e. special or multipurpose vessels with large cranes and whose core business is primarily the Oil and Gas industry.
Sapura Energy & L&T
SAL Heavy Lift
Cost & Price Analysis
Cost & Price Analysis
Generally, day rates for HLVs are opportunistic and may not be driven by bottom-up cost approach. Driven by many factors, fleet utilization and financing being the key. In addition, many contractors are flexible (within limits) on day rates and can work on different rates, depending on what the vessel is used for. Many HLVs, in particular below 3,000 ton capacity are multipurpose vessels or pipe-laying / cable laying vessels, hence may be used for other projects too and subject to utilization levels in those segments. In parallel, at times owners of large HLVs are willing to compete in the marker where lower capacity HLVs markets.
Day rates for heavy lift vessels range from $40k to $700k per day, depending on a variety of factors, such as vessel type, project duration, time of the year, the appetite for risk and jobs, fleet amortization and utilization, availability of roll-over projects and relationship with customers.
In addition, there is a tendency to charge lump sums on a project basis for the total tonnage to be lifted, instead of day rates for an HLV.