The great Indian Offshore promise

May 27, 2013, 2:45PM EST
Opportunities galore for foreign operators in the Indian offshore sector where exploration for oil and gas is on the growth path

The frenzied search for oil and gas in the Indian offshore sector has literally caused an unbridled influx of foreign players endeavoring to carve out a bigger share of the pie. With little or no impediment in their way, overseas operators far outnumber the Indians. The most important reason is that there are very few Indian operators thus being unable to match the demand. The requirement for vessels in the Indian offshore is pegged at 500 plus. This makes getting waiver of the cabotage law a simple exercise. The only requirement being that one-third manpower on the vessel should be Indians.   

These were the factual eye-openers that took center stage at the Offshore Support Vessel Conclave 2013 organized by Oil & Maritime on 22nd May 2013. Eminent speakers from the Indian maritime administration and other regulatory bodies, offshore stakeholders, leading consultants, brokers, legal experts and a host of other presenters of international repute examined critical issues that have a strong bearing on future operations in the offshore sector.

The first session focused on the developing trends and deliberated on the need for all E & P efforts directed to the deeper waters. There is good news for the offshore operators. According to Capt L. K. Panda the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has not mandated any guidelines but has left the field open to the concerned maritime nations to frame their own laws. Certification, risk management, regulations, etc are issues best left for academic debates.

“Even if the Merchant Shipping Act were to be amended to extend the jurisdiction to beyond the Indian territorial waters of 12 nautical miles, how then do we send our officers to the extended areas?” asked Capt M. M. Saggi, former Nautical Advisor to the government of India. “There are several issues that have to be considered in depth.”

However, there are other matters that need urgent attention. Training being the first priority as learning from accidents is not the best option. The incessant search for skilled professionals is the order of the day. As the search goes into ultra deeper waters, the demands for increasingly higher critical technology calls for frequent up-gradation of vessels and E & P gear.

For the Shipping Corporation of India, the offshore has turned out to be their bread and butter according to Capt Sunil Thappar, Director (Tanker & Bulk Carriers). Whereas, A. K. Gupta, SCI’s Director (Technical & Offshore Services) expressed concern about Indian operators ending up playing only the second fiddle and desired that Cabotage laws be strictly enforced as is the case in most countries of the world including the U. S. and China.

The second session featured major challenges being faced by OSV stakeholders as the search moves into deeper waters. Capt R. K. Singh, Sr. V.P. (Shipping) of Reliance Industries Ltd. highlighted the difficulties confronting offshore operators particularly in obtaining manpower. He praised the Director General of Shipping’s move to enforce the employment of at least 50 per cent Indian seafarers on foreign vessels which wish to come into the Indian offshore. 

While Suchint Miglani, Sr. Research Analyst, Drewry presented the E & P scenario of West Africa, Capt. K Devdas, Sr. V. P. of T & OS Division of SCI explained the future trends and the shape of things to come including the government’s policy and the forthcoming government auction for the gas and oil exploration. The organizers had arranged a presentation on standards of training, certification and about the DNV standards.

 The third session combined with the fourth focused on technical aspects of offshore vessels, role of shipyards in enhancing efficiency through design, durability and economics. Sarasij Majumder, COO (Offshore Biz) of Pipavav Group dwelt on the functionalities of OSV and AHTVs considering the various weather conditions and situations they were expected to operate in.

Jan Paul De Wilde, Design Manager of Rolls Royce Marine Norway, spoke about the drivers of the OSV, need for reducing Green House Gases, regulations that are designed to control emissions, diesel electric propulsion, wave piercing hulls form and efficiency hull designs. Rakesh Roy, a Naval Architect & Co-founder of Vedam presented various designs that enhance capabilities of offshore vessels and about Retrofit technology that can be exploited advantageously. A. Devdas, Area Manager for India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, of RINA S.p.A. – Marine Division explained the various rules that have been brought into place by RINA for offshore vessels.

The conclave ended up with the Tom Kennedy, Optimarin AS presented his company’s solution to ballast water treatment. He said, “We came up with environmental treatment through simple and flexible solution. No chemicals and no additives. It is simple and easy to fix and this ballast water treatment system has been approved by DNV.”

He informed that the first vessel on which this has been installed was in 2010 and today the company has orders for setting up this system in over 90 ships. Though the Ballast water convention is still to come into force there is no doubt that Optimarin system will go a long way in protecting the transfer of invasive species and coordinating a timely and effective response to invasions.

 
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