PORT FOURCHON, LA (WVUE) - As oil prices begin to creep up, a Port Fourchon oil industry service company showed off what it said is a first-of-its-kind vessel Tuesday that runs on a cheaper and cleaner fuel.
The vessel, which will service offshore platform in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, is more than 300 feet long.
"It's 64-and-a-half-foot wide and 24-and-a-half-foot deep. It's about 4,700 tons," said Shane Guidry, chairman and CEO of Harvey Gulf International Marine.
It's named the "Harvey Energy" and it is built to run on liquefied natural gas.
"This is the first one in America, so it's as new as it gets. It's just been tested now," said Guidry.
He is thrilled about the "green" nature of the mammoth vessel.
"So it gives you an option to burn a cheaper fuel rather than more expensive dirty diesel. While the EPA has an opportunity now since Macondo on how much emissions you're going to emit around the drilling within 25 miles, LNG is going to get that down so you don't have a problem and can continue working," Guidry said.
Guidry said no one else, either in the federal government or the private sector has such a vessel to date. Captain Jeff Serebrin was at the helm during the testing phase.
"The carbon footprint on this vessel is virtually zero," he said.
And building such a vessel is not cheap. Shane said typically such a boat costs around $45 million, but the new LNG-powered vessel carried a price tag of over $60 million. He said he and his partner are footing the costs. A total of six are being built.
Don Briggs of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association said in all of the U.S. there are only 1019 rigs drilling currently. He said that is down from more than 1,900 in mid-2014.
In Louisiana, the rig count is mixed. Briggs said Louisiana's inland water rig activity took a hit after oil prices plummeted. He said there are just six such rigs working, when usually the number is more than 20.
But Briggs said the number of offshore rigs is 52, which is up slightly.
"It takes 24 to 36 months to build a vessel, so you have to do long-term planning," Guidry said. "You can't look at where the market is today. What we see is that land [drilling] is shutting down very quickly, so people have to go somewhere, and people have to produce returns for their investors, so they're going to run back, in my opinion, to deep water and ultra deep water because it's a longer term play, and the returns on the investment are much higher."
Guidry said the LNG-powered vessel is definitely the future, and he wanted to make sure that his company was out front.