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Is offshore drilling entering into the offshore wind market by pulling out couple of drillships from their valuable fleet to be converted into heavy lift vessels for foundation installation?

For several years the oil and gas market struggled with several drillships stacked without work in sight. As a result, a buzz around buying drillships at a reasonable price to be converted for the offshore wind market was apparent. However, as the oil and gas market is flourishing again, the value of drillships are increasing, day rates are higher and there are fewer stacked vessel one would think the buzz was dead.

Previously in 2017 Boskalis bought and converted the Transocean drillship GSF Jack Ryan into the heavy lift vessel Bokalift 2. The expectation was that potential conversions would largely mirror Bokalift 2, but instead with a newer and larger drillship only from the cold stack list which are able to accommodate more deck space and with a larger crane than previously seen. Moreover, new conversions will likely be equipped with a motion compensation gripper.

According to Esgian Rig Service the cold stack drillship fleet consists of 13 vessels, and it is from this list the drillship conversions would have to come from. However, at the moment the attitude from offshore drilling companies toward diversification into offshore wind is moderate, with only one company having a serious plan to convert up to two drillships. The silver lining is there are a decent amount of cold stacked drillships. Reactivating these ships for drilling are expensive, with Esgian’s rig analysts estimating that reactivation of a cold stack drillship will cost around 100m USD and will take at least a year. So, if there are no plans to reactivate a cold stacked ship, converting it into a heavy lift vessel for offshore wind would have more value than scrapping the vessel.

Nevertheless, it’s likely that only offshore drilling companies with cold stacked drillship in its fleet will consider conversions as the value of drillships have increased to the point where purchase and converting a drillship will be as or more expensive then to just build a purpose-built foundation installation vessel.

Image credit: Boskalis

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