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OSVs and ESG: Baloney, swine gas and lipstick

Photo: Harvey Gulf Harvey_gulf_enviro+.jpeg
A discussion on environmental, social and governance (ESG) and the offshore support vessels (OSVs) sector at a Marine Money event in New Orleans last week brought some refreshing and honest perspectives.

Importantly, the event with a number of the presenting vessel owners far removed from the niceties of public listings, brought honest views and opinions. A panel moderated by William Baldwin, Partner at the law firm Jones & Walker offered a style of dialoguing not seen in many maritime conference venues.

Baldwin’s late afternoon panel covered a range of topics concerning Offshore Service Vessels (OSVs). Towards the end of the session, when the subject turned to ESG and Decarbonization, the commentary was from the heart. Three panel members, Harvey Gulf, Hornbeck, and Tidewater (a listed entity) had recently issued Sustainability reports covering 2021. Shane Guidry, Chairman and CEO of Harvey Gulf, which operates a half dozen LNG fueled service vessels in the US Gulf of Mexico, said “…the LNG boats were probably the best move that we made…they consistently worked through the downturn at rates that made sense, and now they are getting record day rates.”

In discussing the ESG report, Guidry said, “We did it because that’s what our customers want, but honestly, I think it’s a bunch of baloney.” He added that: “We will continue to do our report, but…when it comes to ESG…people are not going to spend the money…” On the same panel, Todd Hornbeck, CEO of Hornbeck Offshore Service, active in the U.S. and Mexican waters, reiterated Mr. Guidry’s points, saying: “Look, we have a great story to tell…I am not going to hide and run from fossil fuels like everyone wants to do and re-invent their companies with lipstick…we can manage it properly…we can reduce emissions…we can do a lot of things to make these fossil fuels clean”.

In a touch of humour, perhaps with New Orleans’s world-renowned culinary fame in mind, he said, “ESG sometimes feels like MSG; it gives you a little headache sometimes.” He added, “It’s got to make money. Our industry has always done ESG; we didn’t have to write it down…we did it before it was something…we’ve been doing it for many years.”

Ironically, food references notwithstanding- the Harvey Gulf organisation- driven by the business cases, has advanced the ESG concept more than most, with an earlier start- several vessels are now tri-fueled, using marine diesel, LNG, and now- battery power.

Guidry, who also is the Owner of LNG barging company Q-LNG, described “an entire supply chain supply chain including LNG trucks that run on LNG, and deliver LNG to the docks to LNG boats to go offshore”. He also described a dramatic emissions reductions achieved through the infusion of “swine gas” – pig and cow manure that is used to create bio-methane, which is then used as fuel bringing emissions down to a “zero score”. “We are the only company that can do that,” he said.

In a world where the customers, rather than the vessel owners, are the ones calling for ESG, it is noteworthy that this owner has actually dipped deep into its pockets in a very big way and committed to fuel efficiency.


Harvey Gulf Sustainability Report

Hornbeck Sustainability Report

Tidewater Sustainability Report