NEW ORLEANS — Tidewater Inc. is adding a new dimension to its fleet with $30 million worth of subsea vessels.
The six remotely operated vehicles will install, maintain and repair equipment on the ocean floor, diversifying Tidewater’s revenue stream, said Joe Bennett, Tidewater executive vice president and chief investor relations officer.
“Our business has been mostly, though not totally, tied to the success of the number of working rigs around the world,” he said Thursday. “As they go down or up, so does our activity level.”
Bennett said the new arm, called Tidewater Subsea, will be able to serve clients before a drilling rig is brought on site.
“This is more of a life-of-field activity level,” Bennett said. “We’re there from start to finish instead of only if the rig is there.”
Tidewater is buying the ROVs from Houston-based FMC Technologies Inc.
The ROVs will be delivered before the end of the year, FMC said in a statement.
Tidewater has more than 300 vessels around the world, carrying supplies and people, towing drilling rigs and equipment, and doing specialized work such as laying pipe or cable, pollution and fire control, and seismic surveys, according to its website.
As oil and gas companies target reserves in deeper waters in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world, fabrication companies such as FMC Technologies are making vehicles that can work in colder waters, under higher pressure. ROVs also are used for surveillance, as they were when the BP PLC well blew in 2010.
ROVs require less capital to operate than a traditional offshore supply vessel and yield higher returns, Bennett said.
He said Tidewater Subsea will focus on maintenance, not well control: “That’s much more technical than what we care to get into at this point.”
Tidewater is hiring ROV operators — it began hiring managers for the new business last year. About 100 of its boats can be modified for the new equipment, Bennett said.