New MSV and seismic vessel age limits at ONGC

Vol 24, PW 12 (06 May 21) Exploration & Production

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

But nobody would deny ONGC's decision to introduce age limits for Multipurpose Support Vessels (MSVs), Well Stimulation Vessels (WSVs) and seismic vessels are long overdue. Expect a new ONGC tender for MSVs after its Executive Purchase Committee (EPC), led by Shashi Shanker on his last day as chairman, imposed age restrictions at its meeting on March 31 (2021).

Much of the credit goes to companies like Singapore-based Ultra Deep Solutions, which lobbied the oil ministry for ONGC to impose age restrictions to ensure it hires modern, efficient vessels, not 40-year-old vessels, as it does now. "ONGC placed the proposal before the EPC two or three times before, but it took no decision," says a source.

"But the ministry finally made it clear (to Shanker) it must be approved." Under the new rules, each vessel should not be more than 21 years old at the start of its ONGC three-year contract.

For five-year contracts, each vessel should not be more than 19 years old. When either of these contracts finishes, the vessel will be 24 years old.

ONGC had already set a maximum 21-year age limit for other offshore vessels but, for some inexplicable reason, imposed no age limits on MSVs, WSVs or seismic vessels. Unsurprisingly, this led to allegations that the oversight was at the behest of a vessel owner cartel determined to hire old vessels.

Vessel owners with older fleets will undoubtedly be unhappy with the new restrictions, but those with modern fleets will benefit. ONGC’s efficiency and productivity are also likely to improve with new vessels.

"The time (to complete assignments) will be down by a third," we hear. "There will be hardly any downtime (idle time) with new vessels, unlike with the old vessels ONGC currently hires."