Huisman looking to the future

Published in category: Offshore Oil & Gas

Timon Ligterink, Sales Manager, Huisman Equipment BVTimon Ligterink
Sales Manager
Huisman Equipment BV

Founded in 1929, Huisman is a leader in the design, development and fabrication of equipment for the oil and gas, renewables and leisure industries.

Like Damen, Huisman is a family-owned company, but its focus is on complex and large structures, such as lifting appliances, pipelay equipment and drilling equipment. Its view of the future is that oil and gas will remain an important source of energy for decades to come, with offshore production continuing to be a significant component. At the same time, the renewable energy markets, such as geothermal and offshore wind, will present a rapidly changing and growing alternative.

Growth potential

Over the years, Damen and Huisman have cooperated on a wide range of projects. Among those going on today is a programme looking at the crane needs of Damen’s clients as the offshore industry heads into a new phase of extended low oil prices. In the short to medium term, Huisman has identified two market segments that it believes offer the most potential for its crane division in the new economic environment; offshore wind and decommissioning. It sees offshore wind as attractive because of its increasing competitiveness and rising profitability, which even now is drawing in increasing amounts of investment.

These improvements are the result of increasing economies of scale as both the individual turbines and the fields themselves are getting larger. This brings new opportunities for Huisman. The market’s existing installation and maintenance assets are rapidly becoming too small to install the new generation of wind turbines.

Offshore installation vessel Aeolus – How does it work from Van Oord on Vimeo.

This requires new technology, and there is certainly the possibility that a major change in the way wind turbines are installed could occur in the near future and bring with it a wave of investment. In the meantime, there is still plenty of space for the incremental improvement of existing systems which in itself will drive demand.

The decommissioning of redundant offshore structures, particularly in the North Sea, has long been recognised as a market with great potential, but the exact timing of when it will begin in earnest remains uncertain. However, Huisman perceives that activity in this area has been increasing recently and that investments in the necessary vessels and equipment are being made. Notable examples include the Sleipnir and Pioneering Spirit, built by Heerema and Allseas respectively. Many other players are also now considering capex investment in this sector.

Evolution of offshore cranes

Over the next few years Huisman expects the changes in wind turbine technology to drive increasing demand for larger offshore wind turbine installation cranes, as operators order larger vessels fitted with bigger cranes in the 2000-3000mt SWL range. Also, the company anticipates that the move towards floating installations, and in time even floating turbines, will bring completely different logistical challenges. In particular, the need for motion compensated equipment and cranes. It will probably be between 5 and 10 years before floating installations become common, but they will certainly gain more traction during the intervening period. For decommissioning, a new generation of more efficient lifting appliances will also be required to remove offshore structures quickly and safely. In the years ahead, demand is expected to come primarily from Europe, but with also significant potential in Asia and the Americas.

With costs under pressure everywhere, Huisman is always working on innovations that can increase the efficiency and productivity of its cranes, and so help its customers compete more effectively. Sometimes the simple replacement of an old crane with a new model can make a big difference. Jackup operators, for example, require the lightest possible cranes so as to maximise the variable payload of their vessels. By replacing the crane on an existing vessel for a more advanced, lightweight equivalent that can lift the same load or even more, Huisman can extend the economic life of the total asset.

However, the company is also currently working on a range of innovations that it expects to bring to market in the coming years. While the underlying principles of craneage remain unchanged; that is, the use of weight and steel structures to lift other weights, there is always potential to improve the various components. Huisman is looking to develop new designs and technologies in areas that include winches, ropes and motion compensation.

For Damen, Huisman’s ability to develop new technology that will not only address the needs of emerging new sectors but also extend the working lives of existing assets, is immensely valuable. It assists Damen in its mission to provide its customers with the vessels that they require to take on the new tasks demanded of them, in an efficient and cost-effective way. It also gives Damen’s repair and refit yards new options for extending the lives of existing vessels or converting them for new missions in an industry characterised by continuous change. The cooperation and free exchange of customer and market feedback between the two organisations regarding the changes taking place in the offshore industry strengthens both parties and reinforces their leadership positions in their respective sectors.