One of the most profitable areas of business must be the offshore oil & gas sector. Although, players in this niche like Shell have millions of dollars to spend, they still stick to using the helicopter for offshore transfer purposes. However, it is obvious that the offshore access system, also known as the heave compensated gangway, is much safer and reliable than the helicopter or the Windcat Workboat. The purpose of this article is to describe what offshore access providing firms should do to force a breakthrough in the industry and how the business can be revolutionized by a much better alternative.

The offshore access industry has a relatively conservative clientele. Moreover, it is very hard to build a brand and become well-known in the market. This is mainly because the clients are big multinationals, such as Shell or BP. When a provider of a heave compensated gangway serves one department of such a client, this does not automatically mean that the whole company will know about this offshore access firm and the services they are providing. Therefore, it can be argued that the forces for change are external to the companies. In order to get a foot in the door of the market, effective and persistent marketing efforts are needed.

However, most companies offering the heave compensated gangway currently have no separate marketing department at all. Up till now, all promotional efforts were performed by employees in different departments not specialized in such activities. In order to force a breakthrough in the market, marketing efforts should become more structured, and the ideal way to do this is by creating a distinct marketing department.

As identified in research, the core problem is that clients of the most lucrative market segment to serve, the offshore oil & gas industry, stick to the helicopter as a method of transporting personnel offshore. However, the differentiated offshore access system that companies like Ampelmann offer is safer, more reliable and cost efficient in use. It is important that potential clients in the offshore oil & gas industry come to know the existence of this method of transferring personnel on sea and more important: The benefits of using this method.

However, the real challenge lies in generating enough demand to have all systems leased out to clients. Past projects and the fact that the current six systems are operational all the time proves that there is certainly a demand for this system. In order to have all systems operational, the heave compensated gangway should be known in the market as a reliable substitute for the helicopter by then. A strong marketing department, therefore, will be indispensable in the future.

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Posted by: Sophie | September 7, 2011

Business Opportunities in the Offshore Access Industry

Introduction

One of the most attractive industries to operate in nowadays is the offshore access industry. These companies enable their clients to transport personnel offshore, for example from a boat to an offshore wind turbine. But the offshore access solutions can also transfer employees from a vessel to an offshore oil & gas platform. The demand for this kind of service rises every year and it is expected that the growth will remain for the coming decade. However, there are some opportunities in this industry that could make the growth accelerate.  This article will describe all the opportunities that should be grasped.

Offshore Brazil

Not long ago, there was a major oil discovery near the coast of Brazil. Also, since onshore oil & gas fields are more and more exhausted, it is expected that the focus of the oil & gas industry will shift to the coast of Brazil and other areas in the sea where much oil is found. In order to optimally benefit from this opportunity, companies have to make contact with Petrobras, the local offshore oil & gas industry that has a monopoly in this area. The offshore oil & gas industry is with distance the most lucrative market segment to operate in for the offshore access industry, so it is a wise move to invest in networking opportunities with Petrobras.

Sustainable Energy

All over the world, governments are looking for more sustainable forms of energy generation. Especially, after the nuclear crisis in Japan, the focus shifted to offshore wind. Companies like Germany and England invest huge funds in the construction of new wind parks. All these new wind parks will have lots of wind turbines that need maintenance from time to time. The only way to do this is with offshore access solutions. Therefore, it is expected that this development will drive the demand for offshore access systems even further up.

Alternative use of technology

The offshore access system can also be used for other types of offshore operations. For example, the system could be used to transport goods offshore like containers. Other possible adjustments of the system include:

  • A vessel to vessel connection. (Instead of vessel to fix object)
  • As a platform for military equipment, such as guns, on war ships.
  • As landing platform for helicopters.

Any company that makes these adjustments opens a whole new market for itself, since there are no other companies that do the same.

Evaluation

The offshore access industry is thriving. The growth can be accelerated by grasping three opportunities: The offshore oil discovery in Brazil, the move to more sustainable forms of energy generation like offshore wind and alternative uses of the offshore access system. Therefore, it might be a good idea to search for a job in this industry (offshore jobs north sea) or to invest in these companies.

Posted by: Sophie | August 24, 2011

Videos of offshore operations

Introduction

For many of our readers, it is still hard to graps how the differentiated offshore access system is able to transfer personnel on sea. Because of this, I have contacted some companies in this industry and asked them if I could publish some videos of their operations. Fortunately, one company accepted this and this resulted in the following videos:

Ampelmann operations

On this video, you can sea how the gangway of the system is connected to the platform. Furthermore, pay attention to the compensation of wave motions tha the six hydraulic legs provide.

This video shows an animation of how the offshore access system works.

Posted by: Sophie | August 13, 2011

Relations in the industry

Introduction

The offshore access industry is an industry with much potential and growth. The service of offshore access is highly demanded by the offshore oil & gas industry and the offshore wind industry. The offshore access companies make it possible to transfer personnel from a moving vessel to a stable platform offshore. This can be done in various ways: Helicopter, jack-up platform, Windcat workboat and the differentiated offshore access system. However, it has to be said that this is also a complex industry to operate in. The purpose of this post, therefore, is to clarify the relations between the players in this industry and competitors, suppliers, substitutes and new entrants is.

Openness of the industry

It is very hard to get a foot in the door in the offshore access industry. First of all, you will need expensive capital to facilitate offshore access. The cheapest solution will be a helicopter, costing you around 200,000 euros. However, you will need multiple of them, and there have been some helicopter accidents in the past in the offshore access industry so do not be surprised if one of your machines needs maintenance or is total loss. Furthermore, you will need experienced personnel, with specialized knowledge. Finally, a good reputation must be built to make a chance in the conservative offshore oil & gas industry.

Substitutes

The conservative offshore oil & gas industry sticks to the helicopter; although it is proven that the differentiated offshore access system is much safer, cheaper and reliable. Therefore, it is hard to choose which offshore access solution to choose. It is quite possible that the offshore oil & gas industry will change over to the differentiated system in the near future for good. Other solutions like the Windcat workboat and the jack-up platform are not good choses, since they are very expensive and furthermore, they are not used very often in both market segments. Therefore, it is concluded that the best choices are the helicopter and the differentiated system.

Clients

Customers mainly fall into two categories: Offshore wind and offshore oil & gas. The offshore oil & gas industry has the most money too spent. Therefore, it is concluded that it is the most lucrative to operate in this industry. The numer one priority of this industry is safety, expensive but safe access solutions are preferred over cheaper, but less safe alternatives. However, the offshore wind segment has much growing potential, as more and more wind parks are built all over the world, especially after the nuclear disaster in Japan, March 2011, governments are searching for more sustainable forms of energy generation. Therefore, it is very easy to gain market share in this part of the market, since it is also way less conservative than the offshore oil & gas industry.

Suppliers

Good suppliers are scarce in this industry. The differentiated offshore access systems need highly specialized components. Vertical integration is not attractive for the suppliers, since they also supply to other industries. For other offshore access solutions, such as the helicopter or the Windcat workboat, this is not much of an issue. However, when using the differentiated offshore access system for operations, it is key to have good supplier relationships.

Rivalry

There is not much rivalry in this industry, since market share can be gained so easily. Furthermore there are not that many players in this industry. For the differentiated offshore access systems, there are two companies. There is one big helicopter service and one player that use the Windcat boats to transfer personnel offshore. It is very hard to step out of this industry, since the investments are very specialized and cannot be used in other industries, with exception of the helicopter.

Posted by: Sophie | August 10, 2011

Requirements to operate in the offshore access industry

Introduction

One of the most profitable industries nowadays is the offshore access industry. The industry serves a rapidly growing market: The offshore oil & gas segment and the offshore wind segment. The amount of orders increases every month and good, safe and reliable offshore access solutions are relatively rare. Therefore, it is very attractive for outsiders to enter this industry. However, the industry may seem complex at first, due to the high-tech nature of the industry. However, in order to operate in this industry, your company has to satisfy the so called Minimal & Key Success Factors, which will be described in this article.

Minimal Success Factors

The most obvious factor is the ability to transfer personnel offshore. This is the core purpose of the companies operating in this industry. The companies vary in the method they use (Helicopter, Windcat workboat or differentiated system), but ultimately the goal is to transport the employees from a moving vessel to a stable platform offshore.  The transport system in question must be able to endure the adverse conditions on sea. Furthermore, experienced personnel must be available to ensure that systems are used properly.

Key Success Factors

There are a few aspects in which competitors can extinguish themselves. The first point is safety. Offshore safety is priority number one for many companies in the offshore oil & gas industry and the offshore wind industry. An accident could lead to loss of reputation for both the offshore access company as well as the client. Safety is even more important than price. It has to be noted that up till now, the safest solutions is the differentiated offshore transfer system. Other methods such as the helicopter and the jack-up platform have had some problems and accidents in the past.

The second important criterion is accessibility. Time is literally money in the offshore oil & gas industry. Workers are also paid for the hours they do not work on the platform.  The offshore access solutions must be able to be transported fast to its destination. The helicopter has an advantage here, but it has to be noted that the Ampelmann system also has an extremely fast installation time.

The last factor taken into consideration is reliability. The conditions offshore can be rough, and therefore the solution has to be robust.  Adverse weather conditions like fog and storm can negatively influence operation time. The differentiated system has a big advantage here, because it is operational 95% of the time. Only when wave heights exceed 3.5 meters, it is not safe to use the system.

Conclusion

The most important factor to success in this industry is obviously having some sort of means to transport people offshore. However, success is greatly dependent on the safety, accessibility and reliability of the solution. It has to be noted that safety is the most important distinguishing factor, since the clients in this industry are very vulnerable to reputation damage. In order to fulfill this need, highly skilled personnel must be hired. (offshore jobs north sea). If the company in question is able to do this, success is almost guaranteed.

 

Posted by: Sophie | August 6, 2011

The market of the offshore access industry

Introduction

It is generally known that the market the offshore access industry serves can be categorized in two main segments: The offshore oil & gas industry and the offshore win industry.  The service of offshore personnel transport is especially needed on places where a lot of wind farms or oil platforms are located. Offshore access companies, therefore, operate all over the world. However, some areas are more attractive to these providers of offshore access than others.  In this article, the market will be analyzed further.

Offshore wind

The offshore wind industry is the fastest growing market segment. This is mainly due to the fact that more and more countries are shifting their attention to more sustainable forms of energy generation. Man wind parks are planned to be built in the near future. This market segment can be further split in to the following parts.

Europe

The North Sea is near the coast of the Netherlands and England contains the most wind farms of the whole world.  The average size of these wind parks is 380 MW wind power.  In this market, helicopters and other old-fashioned offshore access solutions are still often used. It is estimated that these outdated methods have a market share of 60%, while the differentiated offshore access systems have a share of 40%.

North and Middle America

The American government has approved the first offshore wind parks in Nantucket, Massachusetts.  There are not many customers in this part of the market, however, it is expected that the size of the American wind farms will soon grow exponentially. Providers of offshore access should monitor this segment with particular interest.

South America

South America is not very attractive for companies operating in the offshore oil & gas industry. Furthermore, the coast around Argentina is very harsh and in these type of conditions, especially outdated offshore access solutions like the Windcat boat and the helicopter will have problems and low operation times.

Asia/Australia

In this part of the world, especially China and South-Korea are countries that have lots of potential for offshore access companies regarding offshore wind farms. Australia doesn’t have plans for wind farms. It is estimated that a great demand for offshore access solutions will arise around 2020, when most of the planned wind parks will be operational.

Offshore oil & gas

The offshore oil & gas industry is the most lucrative part of the market; they have the most money to spend. The offshore oil & gas industry is not really concerned about the cost of offshore personnel transport, however they do value safe access solutions. Safety is the priority number one for companies like Shell, who do not want to suffer reputation damage due to injuries or even casualties of personnel during the transport. This market can also be split in geographical areas.

Europe

Europe has 450 offshore oil platforms. The market is a bit stagnating, no new platforms are built. Nonetheless, the market remains attractive for companies located in The Netherlands such as Offshore Solutions and Ampelmann Operations.

North and Middle America

This is a very big part of the market. However, this part of the market is also the most conservative. Old-fashioned solutions like the helicopter and the jack-up platform are still used the most here. Therefore, it will be very hard for providers of differentiated solutions to get a foot in the door.

South America

Recently, massive oil discoveries were made near the coast of Brazil. It is expected that the center focus of the offshore oil & gas industry will move here. Currently, many offshore access companies are in negotiation with Petrobras, the local oil & gas regulator. Therefore, it is crucial to get acceptance from this company, since the bulk of offshore access jobs will be in this part of the market. It is also a chance for the providers of differentiated systems, because this segment is relatively new and not that conservative.

Asia/Australia

There are lots of newly installed oil platforms around Australia. The situation is a bit similar to Brazil, but this market has less potential. Still, it is worthwhile to gain market share here, since there are already 1500 platforms operational here.

Conclusion

Both market segments the offshore access industry is thriving. The offshore wind market segment has grown in a rapid pace, mainly because of the move to ‘green’ energy generation. The offshore oil & gas industry profits from the new oil discoveries near the coasts of Brazil and Australia. In the offshore wind segment, the most attractive parts are the North Sea, mainly because of the ambitious plans of the English government and China. South America should be avoided for this part of the market. The most attractive part of the offshore oil & gas industry is without doubt Brazil, where a huge demand for offshore access solutions will inevitably arise.

 

Posted by: Sophie | August 1, 2011

Safe & reliable offshore transfer

Introduction

The demand for a safe and reliable offshore access system has grown with rapid speed the last decade. Managers of companies acting in the offshore oil & gas industry seem to slowly realize that the helicopter, an offshore transport option taken for granted, is not that safe and reliable as thought. The solution to this problem is the relatively new differentiated offshore access systems. These systems have already been used for a long time in the offshore wind industry, to perform maintenance. However, there is not much known about these systems. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to give some basic information about the differentiated offshore access systems.

Safe Offshore Transport

Many accidents already have occurred with the helicopter. The managers of big offshore companies are therefore looking for a safer solution to transfer personnel offshore. Accidents can lead to severe injuries or even death of personnel. This does a lot of damage to the reputation of the company.  In order to make offshore transport safer, companies like Ampelmann operate all systems on site by specially trained engineers that make sure the system is operating well and is used in a proper way.  Op till now, differentiated offshore access systems have never caused accidents in offshore personnel transfer.

Reliability

In the offshore oil & gas industry, time is literally money. Fog and other adverse weather conditions, can cause huge delays in offshore operations.  This is the case, because it is very dangerous to use the helicopter for transport with these types of weather.  The differentiated offshore access systems often guarantee 90% access of time or an even higher rate in the case of the Ampelmann system. Because of this, the differentiated system is less expensive to use than for example, a helicopter or Windcat.  The offshore engineers can work longer, because the reliability is higher and transport occurs faster. This does reduce the paid salary for idle working time.

Systems available

There are multiple differentiated offshore access systems available. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Currently, there are three choices available. Each of them will be discussed in the following.

Ampelmann

The Ampelmann system exists since 2007. The company has been established as a spin-off of the Delft University of Technology. This is one of the most innovative and leading technical universities in the world. Despite the young age of the company, the Ampelmann system already has operated in several jobs all over the world. The system effortlessly endured the harsh North Sea, but also coped with tough conditions in the seas surrounding Australia and Trinidad & Tobago. The system has 95% reliability during the entire year. This means that only 5% of the time, the system is unable to operate because of too high waves, storms or other sever adverse weather conditions.

Offshore Solutions

Offshore Solutions is another Dutch offshore access company. Their system is simply called ‘The Offshore Access System’ (OAS).  OAS can compensate wave heights up to 3 meters. However, the reliability is only 90%. This is lower than the Ampelmann system, but still way higher than other offshore transport methods such as the helicopter or the jack-up platform.  The system is less safe than the Ampelmann system, mainly because the fact that the gangway moves up and down.

Uptime Alliance

Uptime Alliance is the newest competitor in the offshore access industry. Not much is known about this company. Their website is relatively empty, and no operations have been performed up till now.  Uptime Alliance is a joint venture between Marine Aluminium AS and TTS Energy. Each of their systems is specialized according to the sort of job and therefore less flexible in comparison to the direct competitors who have more adaptable systems.

Conclusion

Old fashioned solutions like the helicopter and the jack-up platform are technological inferior to the differentiated offshore access systems. The systems are safer, more reliable and maybe even more important: They reduce idle time of engineers that are paid even if they have no work. Within the industry of differentiated systems, it seems that Ampelmann is the strongest competitor.

Posted by: Sophie | July 20, 2011

Offshore transport

Introduction

One of the most crucial requirements for companies in the offshore oil & gas industry or the offshore wind industry is the ability to transport personnel offshore. These companies often have to travel their employees multiple times per day between the vessel and the offshore wind turbine/platform. Fortunately, there are a few companies that offer offshore access with a differentiated system that enables to transfer personnel even in the harshest weather conditions like fog and storms. In this article, the most important providers of offshore access systems will be described.

Offshore Solutions

Offshore solutions BV is a company based in the Netherlands that provides offshore access since 2006. Their system enables fast and safe transport to offshore destinations such as wind mills and oil platforms. Their system is one of the best of its sorts and has a reliability of approximately 90%. This entails that the system will be available for transfer 90% of the time, even in adverse conditions.

Ampelmann

Ampelmann is a company similar to Offshore Solutions. It was established by former students of the TU Delft in The Netherlands. However, it has to be noted that the Ampelmann system is more or less superior to the system Offshore Solutions provides. The Ampelmann system has 95% reliability and furthermore requires less time to install. This is a very important characteristic in the offshore oil & gas industry, where time is literally money.

Uptime Alliance

Uptime Alliance is the newest player in the offshore access industry. There is not much known about this company. Up till now they have done no operations. It is expected that they will publish more information on their website soon, and they will be available for offshore transport operations.

Conclusion

The industry of differentiated offshore access providers roughly exists of three players. It has to be noted that Ampelmann has the greatest competitive advantage, because of the high reliability of the system (offshore risks) and furthermore it is the fastest in installation.

Posted by: Sophie | July 20, 2011

Offshore safety

Introduction

One of the most important aspects in offshore access is safety. Chances of an accident in the offshore business are very high, so safety is very important.  In order to offer one of the safest systems, offshore access companies operate all systems on site by specially trained engineers that make sure the system is running well and is used properly.

Another important feature of the differentiated systems is reliability. The market demands a highly reliable system that provides access of their employees to the platform at any time. The offshore access systems have a 95% reliability accessing the platform, even if they face harsh environments.

Reputation

It can be concluded that safety is very important for companies that want to transfer their personnel offshore. However, safety is also crucial for the offshore access companies themselves. One minor failure in the system may lead to a breakdown and as a consequence the personnel transferred may be severely injured or may even die. It is needless to say that these kinds of accidents can have a catastrophic effect on the offshore access company in question.

Therefore, safety is also the number one criteria for the developers of offshore access systems. Many of them, for example, built redundant components that can take over the job when the main components of the system fail. Because of these measures, there have never been accidents up till now with the differentiated offshore access systems. This makes them a more safe option than others like the helicopter or the jack-up platform that were very popular in the past.

The differentiated offshore access systems are also much more reliable. In the past, offshore operations were impossible when adverse weather conditions were present like fog and extreme wind. However, with the differentiated offshore access systems, companies do not have to worry about this anymore.

Conclusion

Safety is very important for both offshore access companies as well as for the firms that request the service. Offshore access systems are a much safer option than helicopters and jack-up platforms.  It is predicted that in the future, more and more firms operating in the offshore oil & gas industry will use differentiated systems to transfer their personnel.

Posted by: Sophie | July 20, 2011

Offshore operations

Introduction

Many people wonder what offshore operations exactly entail. They have heard of it, but cannot entirely grasp the concept of offshore access. It is not very hard to understand. Every form of transportation that makes it able to move from a moving vessel to a platform on the sea or an offshore wind turbine is considered an offshore access solution. Offshore operations, therefore, entails the act of moving personnel via this transportation method to the desired destination. The most popular access methods for offshore operations are: The helicopter, the jack-up platform and the differentiated offshore access system. Each of these options will be discussed in this article.

Helicopter

CHC Helicopter can be regarded as the strongest company in offshore operations. It only focuses on offshore access and moves over one million workers to platforms each year. They own a fleet of 233 helicopters that operate globally on seven continents (CHC, 2011).

Within the helicopter industry the company follows the generic strategy of focus, as they only serve the demand for the offshore industry. However, within the offshore access systems industry, they use differentiation in order to distinguish from competitors. CHC has two main competitive advantages over others. The first is given by the offshore industry itself. The industry is very conservative and has been using the helicopter for decades and will use it in the future, even though more advanced solutions are available on the market. Moreover, CHC has a fast response to customers demand. In case of unforeseen occurrences by clients, the helicopter has the smallest lead-time moving personnel to a platform. Therefore, the key success factor of availability is very well served. This displays a great advantage in an industry where downtime of a platform is a major cost factor. Nevertheless, the company has weaknesses:

1) Particular weather conditions, such as fog and heavy wind, can prevent CHC helicopters to operate correctly.

2) CHC has a high rate of accidents and is therefore less safe compared to other companies.

3) It has the highest overall costs.

Jack-up platform

Jack-up platforms are one of the oldest solutions for offshore access. It is also one of the most dangerous. It entails that rigs are used that can be jacked up above the sea using legs that can be lowered, much like jacks. It can be used to transport personnel on. It is very costly to build such a construction for each offshore operation. Therefore, this is one of the least used offshore access methods there are.

Differentiated system

The differentiated offshore access system exists since 2004. These systems can compensate wave motions and in this way enable safe transport of employees. The systems are very expensive to build: Costs vary from 1 million dollars to 4 million dollars. However, there are some companies that lease machines like these for relatively low prices. Offshore access systems have the highest operating rate and can even serve in adverse weather conditions like fog or extreme wind. Thy also score best in offshore safety. Up till now, there has never been an accident with the differentiated system.

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