Offshore and specialized shipbuilder VARD has secured a $300 million to design and build “module carriers” as the company continues to look past traditional offshore vessels to secure new orders.
The contract was signed with Topaz Energy and Marine and calls for 15 vessels to be used in the transport of modules along shallow inland waterways in Russia to oilfields in Kazakhstan.
The vessels will be 123 meters long by 16.5 meters and designed to carry high deck loads of up to 1,800 tons.
Five of the vessels will be built at Vard Braila and four at Vard Tulcea in Romania, while the remaining six will be built at Vard Vung Tau in Vietnam.
The vessels will be operated by Topaz through a consortium led by Blue Water Shipping for the end-client Tengizchevroil. Delivery is scheduled between 3Q 2017 and 2Q 2018.
“We are honoured to have been selected by Topaz to develop the tailor-made vessels for this project,” comments VARD CEO and Executive Director, Roy Reite. “VARD has long history of projects for the Caspian region, with seven vessels specifically developed for shallow-water operations delivered since 2010. Topaz currently operates three vessels built by VARD in the Caspian, and has two light construction vessels for international operations on order from VARD. This project strengthens our relationship with Topaz and our foothold in the region. It also provides significant employment for our Romanian and Vietnam yards for the next two years, at a time when investment in new vessels for the oil and gas sector is limited elsewhere.”
With the weak offshore market, VARD has focused efforts on strengthening its position in new markets, particularly expedition cruise vessels and aquaculture, while streamlining its cost structure to weather the effects of the downturn in oil and gas. The company said Thursday that the company was able to return to profit in Q1 2016, posting net profit of NOK 43 million (USD $5.2 million), compared to a loss of NOK 226 million in Q1 2015.
“2016 is a year of transformation for VARD, and in the first quarter we delivered a strong start,” said Reite, speaking of the company’s first quarter results. “We are encouraged by the customer response to our foray into new markets, especially in the expedition cruise and aquaculture segments. With the contract for the design and construction of Module Carrier Vessels for Topaz, we demonstrate that even within the oil and gas sector, there are still attractive opportunities. At the same time, we need to be mindful that our core markets still present formidable challenges, both for our clients and for us. The strong support from our main shareholder, FINCANTIERI, and the increasing cooperation between our companies gives me confidence that we will master these challenges successfully.”