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Bourbon plans AHTS contracts in China

Shanghai: Bourbon's Norwegian subsidiary is planning to order four new large anchor handling tugs (AHTS) in China, according to managing director Trond Myklebust. His company, Bourbon Offshore Norway (BON), is currently assessing latest designs for the vessels, which will be capable of handling offshore kit weighing up to 250 tonnes. Possible design companies including Ulstein and Aker, specialists in the field and situated close by, in the Aalesund region on Norway's west coast.

Once a decision on design has been made, contracts are likely to be placed at China's Sino-Pacific Heavy Industries where BON already has four platform support vessels (PSVs) under construction. According to Myklebust, Chinese prices are significantly less than those prevailing elsewhere. "Buy three, get one free," he says, explaining that it's "well worth the money" even allowing for 40 days' mobilisation to the North Sea, or elsewhere.

In addition to the four PSVs, BON has three other offshore vessels on order - the Bourbon Sapphire and the Bourbon Diamond, due to join their two sister vessels Bourbon Pearl (2007) and Bourbon Ruby (May 2008) and a highly sophisticated offshore construction vessel, Bourbon Oeanteam 104, with delivery scheduled for 2010.

Overall,Bourbon companies have a massive orderbook. With a modern fleet numbering some 230 vessels, group companies have a further 188 units on order. They have offices in 25 countries and claim a strong presence in what is termed "the Golden Triangle" comprising the west coast of Africa, Brazil, Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea. Rapid expansion is also under way in Asia.

Myklebust acknowledges that manpower is a growing challenge and Bourbon has a range of initiatives aimed at attracting new blood. In addition to training centres in Marseilles, Manila, Norway and the US, the company is commissioning a new anchor handling tug simulator in Singapore due to open in September. [20/05/08]

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