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Please … no more ships!

Banks should play a much more proactive role in badly needed consolidation across the offshore support vessel sector, said René Kofod-Olsen, chief executive of Topaz Energy and Marine, as he declared that the last thing that was needed was another round of new contracting.

Speaking at the keynote panel discussion at Seatrade Offshore Marine & Workboats Middle East in Abu Dhabi yesterday, he said that consolidation was more than just lumping some companies together with no financial restructuring. This was merely pushing the problem down the line. More fundamental restructuring was required.

“Some of the mergers we have seen are simply putting a few companies together with the same debt burden,” he declared.

Traditionally in shipping, he said, at the first signs of a market recovering after a downturn, owners would rush out to order more ships. But he noted that the OSV sector is awash with tonnage and pleaded for no new contracting even though attractive deals are potentially available, particularly in China.

He drew parallels with other sectors, noting that some container lines had recently placed multi-ship orders for ultra large vessels in another over-tonnaged shipping sector.

Kofod-Olsen also observed that the oil and gas industry urgently needs to re-establish its lead in declaring a sustainable future as part of the world’s essential energy mix. The renewable energy sector which, he said, contributed low single digits in terms of a contribution to world supplies, was driving 95% of the conversation. This, he said, would make it increasingly difficult to attract both financial and human capital to the oil and gas business in future.

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