Some big news from Houston-based Tidewater, the world’s largest owner and operator of offshore support vessels (OSVs). The company announced it has reached an agreement to purchase 37 platform supply vessels (PSVs) from Solstad Offshore for $577 million.
Solstad Offshore ASA is a Norwegian offshore service and supply vessel company providing services to the offshore energy industry. The company offers a range of services such as construction support, subsea operations, and offshore drilling support.
Tidewater said the acquisition will solidify it as the leading high-specification PSV operator. The addition of Solstad vessels will make Tidewater the largest owner and operator of high-specification PSVs, which Tidewater explains is the OSV vessel class that has “demonstrated the highest utilization through all market cycles.”
The deal also includes 14 battery hybrid and 2 LNG-capable vessels.
The PSVs have total backlog of approximately $620 million, including contract option periods, and “significant potential cash flow generation upside as maturing contracts roll onto higher market day rates,” Tidewater said.
The acquisition will bring Tidewater’s fleet to 228 vessels, including a modern fleet of 199 PSVs and AHTS with an average age of 11.3 years and 65% of which are high-specification vessels.
For Solstad Offshore, the sale will mark its exit from the PSV sector as it focusses on high-end AHTS and Subsea vessels that can service the renewables sector.
“The sale of the PSVs represents a shift in our strategy in a changing market. The PSVs mainly support the oil and gas industry, while the AHTSs and [Construction support vessels (CSVs] can service all offshore energy sectors, including oil and gas and renewables,” said Lars Peder Solstad, CEO of Solstad Offshore. “This move is therefore in line with our strategy of being a key enabler in the energy transition. Further, the transaction will give Solstad greater financial leeway and a significantly improved debt and cash position going forward.”
Tidewater said it intends to fund the acquisition through a combination of new debt and cash on hand. It has received commitments from a group of financial institutions, led by Tidewater’s existing lender DNB Bank ASA, for a three-year senior secured credit facility of up to $325 million, and the company expects to raise new debt prior to closing which is expected in the second quarter of 2023.
Tidewater has been extremely bullish on the continued recovery of the offshore vessel market, describing 2022 as an “inflection point” as demand for oil and gas supplies increases.
“This agreement to acquire 37 PSVs from Solstad Offshore marks yet another important milestone in the strengthening of Tidewater’s leadership position as we continue to capitalize on the rapidly improving OSV market,” said Quintin Kneen, Tidewater’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “This acquisition further solidifies Tidewater as the leader in large, high-specification PSVs and as the new global leader in hybrid PSVs.
“These vessels make up the highest specification PSV fleet of its size anywhere in the world. All 37 vessels are currently active and are working throughout the world, principally in the North Sea, but also in Brazil, Australia and West Africa.
“Assuming the transaction closes at the end of the second quarter, we are updating our revenue guidance for 2023 to approximately $1.03 billion and our vessel operating margin guidance for 2023 remains the same at approximately 50.0%.
“This transaction is just the latest in a series of transformative steps Tidewater has taken to drive long-term earnings and cash flow generation. We are focused on bringing together the world’s best OSV fleets to create the safest, most sustainable, most reliable, most profitable high-specification OSV fleet in the world,” Kneen said.
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