Author: Barbara Sanches
Offshore support vessels (OSVs) are specialist boats used in the offshore sector to assist with drilling, production, building, and maintenance activities.
OSVs are subjected to demanding tasks while operating in some of the maritime industry’s most challenging and unpredictable circumstances. Because of this complexity, OSV efficiency is a complicated operation that calls for specialist knowledge, specialized tools, and unique monitoring and optimization methods. Optimizing OSVs operations has also become increasingly more urgent as the sector faces increased pressure to cut its carbon footprint and adhere to stricter environmental standards.
In this blog, we will delve into the unique challenges of optimizing OSVs and explore how the industry is rising to the challenge of decarbonization and optimization.
The specificities of Offshore Support Vessels
Excellent maneuvering capabilities
OSVs are made to be highly maneuverable, which is crucial for their use in the offshore industry. These vessels must frequently operate near other offshore assets, such as platforms and drilling rigs. They must carry out challenging activities like maintaining position, navigating through constrained spaces, and carrying out dangerous lifting and anchor handling operations.
OSVs are often equipped with numerous propulsion systems, such as azimuth thrusters, tunnel thrusters, and bow thrusters, to achieve this mobility. The vessel can be maneuvered and precisely positioned even under challenging circumstances thanks to these propulsion systems. In addition, most OSVs include dynamic positioning systems (DPS), which rely on a GPS, sensors, and thrusters combination to maintain the vessel’s position and direction without anchors automatically.
The ability to maneuver with precision is critical for OSVs because it enables them to perform their specialized roles safely and efficiently. For example, during drilling operations, an OSV may need to maintain a specific position and heading for extended periods while supplying equipment and materials to the rig. Similarly, an OSV may need to perform delicate lifting operations while maneuvering near the installation during offshore construction projects.
Unique Transit Requirements
Unlike cargo ships built for long-distance transportation of goods across the ocean, OSVs are designed to operate in the offshore environment for extended periods. As a result, the majority of OSVs types often have a shorter transit range. These vessels typically transit at 10 – 12 knots, much slower than cargo ships’ typical transit speed.
One reason for this is that OSVs are not built for long-distance transit. They are designed to operate in an offshore environment, where their primary role is to provide support for offshore operations. As a result, they do not need to travel long distances, and their transit range is often limited.
Waiting means burning fuel
Regarding standby, OSVs face unique challenges compared to other vessels. Unlike container ships that can drop anchor to wait alongside a port, OSVs are often required to slow steam near rigs while waiting for their next assignment. This standby mode is necessary because these vessels must be ready to operate in concise periods. They must be close to the offshore platform to provide support as soon as needed.
However, being on standby for offshore marine vessels means still consuming much fuel, even when not actively engaged in operations. This is because OSVs need to keep their engines running to maintain their position and avoid drifting away from the rig. This can result in increased fuel consumption and emissions.
While it may seem more cost-effective for OSVs to wait in port, this is not always feasible due to the time-sensitive nature of offshore operations. If an OSV is required for an urgent task, it needs to be able to respond quickly, and sending the vessel back to port would significantly delay its availability.
Challenges in OSV efficiency
Complexity of Activities
Offshore operations are highly complex and require specialized vessels, equipment, and personnel. OSVs are tasked with supporting various activities such as drilling, production, construction, and maintenance, which require different types of support. This makes it challenging to optimize vessel usage and ensure that the right vessels are in the right place at the right time.
Marine logistics is a highly dynamic industry with constantly changing demands and requirements. This requires OSVs to be highly adaptable, as operations and requests can change at a moment’s notice. Furthermore, the operational needs of offshore activities can often require vessels to change operating settings frequently, further adding to the complexity of optimizing operations.
Lack of data collection and analysis
Another challenge in optimizing offshore operations is the lack of data collection and analysis. While data collected during offshore operations is often not utilized to its full potential due to limited analysis capabilities. This can make it challenging to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement. However, the industry increasingly uses digitalization and automation to improve data analysis and optimize vessel performance and efficiency.
Performance Management and OSV Efficiency
Digitalization and performance management have proven to be game-changers in optimizing offshore operations. Thanks to the latest technology, operators can collect real-time data on the vessels’ position, fuel consumption, and operational patterns in specific weather conditions. This data is then used to improve the efficiency of OSVs, reduce costs, and enhance safety.
The benefits of data analysis are numerous. For example, collecting and analyzing data can help identify sub-optimal use of engines and generators, reducing unnecessary journeys and ensuring that vessels are deployed at optimal times. It also reduces non-productive operations, minimizing fuel consumption. In the long term, data analysis can provide a better understanding of a company’s specific operational constraints and a more precise portrait of the fleet that would best suit its needs – informing key decisions on vessel numbers, types, and designs required to deliver optimized operations.
How can Opsealog assist marine logistics teams?
The data collected must be of the right type and good quality to achieve the best data-driven optimization results. This is why companies like Opsealog have taken a significant step towards optimizing data collection by launching their own onboard data collection service, Streamlog. Streamlog simplifies daily reporting onboard vessels by digitizing information, mitigating errors, and facilitating data entry for personnel. By ensuring that the data collected is reliable and of high quality, companies can make informed decisions and drive continuous improvement in their offshore operations.
In conclusion, digitalization and performance management have transformed how offshore operations are managed and optimized. By collecting and analyzing real-time data, companies can make informed decisions, optimize their vessels, reduce costs, and enhance safety. Adopting these technologies has made offshore operations leaner and more innovative, making companies more resilient in the face of sudden changes market or the operating context.
Are you interested in learning more about marine offshore vessel optimization?