Harvey Gulf sells 8-vessel offshore tug division

Photo provided by Harvey Gulf International Marine -- New Orleans-based Harvey Gulf International Marine has sold its towing division — made up of eight offshore tugs used to move drilling rigs — to Houston-based Signet Maritime Corp. Show caption
Photo provided by Harvey Gulf International Marine -- New Orleans-based Harvey Gulf International Marine has sold its towing division — made up of eight offshore tugs used to move drilling rigs — to Houston-based Signet Maritime Corp.

New Orleans-based Harvey Gulf International Marine has sold its towing division — eight offshore tugs used to move drilling rigs — to Houston-based Signet Maritime Corp.

Signet said it will maintain the offshore towing division operations in Port Fourchon and keep the boats’ crew members.

Signet and Harvey Gulf did not disclose the terms of the deal. However, Signet said the financing for the acquisition was part of a $209 million loan from a group of lenders.

Harvey Gulf also announced that CEO Shane Guidry’s son, Ashton, has joined the company — the fourth generation of the family to work in the company. He will start as a logistics coordinator.

“Over time, hopefully, he’ll work his way up to the top like I did,” Shane Guidry said.

The Signet deal ends Harvey Gulf’s 59-year history of towing drilling rigs and continues the transformation of the company to offshore supply, subsea construction and crew vessel services, Guidry said.

“We’re participating in everything now that our customers need to drill a well and get the oil and gas out of that hole,” Guidry said.

The “super majors” constantly push the boundaries of energy production, in deeper water, deeper wells and higher-pressure formations, Guidry said. Keeping up with those clients’ needs means Harvey Gulf must continuously invest in its fleet, replacing older, smaller vessels with newer, more efficient ones.

The company also has to concentrate on the business segments that offer Harvey Gulf the most promise, Guidry said, which excludes towing.

At one point, Harvey Gulf had 39 inland and offshore towing vessels, Guidry said. But the company has been shedding those boats since 1997, when Guidry took over as CEO.

The transformation accelerated in 2008, when he and the Jordan Co. bought Harvey Gulf. At the time, the towing division served as the platform for growth, Guidry said.

But now, “it’s just not our core business anymore,” Guidry said.

In the past six years, Harvey Gulf has quintupled in size, thanks to its emphasis on offshore supply, subsea construction and crew vessels. The company has spent $1.7 billion on its fleet and related assets since 2008. Harvey Gulf’s fleet consists of 51 vessels with 12 on order. The fleet’s value is more than $2 billion.

The towing capacity of the tugs acquired by Signet range from around 83 tons to 168 tons, and Signet said it will immediately begin converting the engines to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s more stringent Tier 3 emissions standards.