Celebrating Ramform Tethys - Why Another Titan Adds Long-term Value for PGS

The PGS fleet welcomed its third Ramform Titan-class into the fold on 17 March and a fourth is due in a year’s time. Despite the lowest oil price in two decades, fleet renewal now is good news long term for PGS and the industry.

Ramform Tethys is the third Ramform Titan-class
Ramform Tethys

The Ramform Tethys built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Shipbuilding Co. in Nagasaki, Japan was delivered to PGS yesterday and celebrated in a naming ceremony on 17 March. This vessel is bristling with the latest seismic technology. 

Her iconic, delta-shaped design, 104 meters long and 70 meters at the stern, dovetails advanced maritime technology to the imaging capabilities of the GeoStreamer® seismic acquisition technology. Her back deck houses 24 streamer reels with 16 reels aligned abreast across the stern and 8 reels further forward, each one has capacity for 12 kilometers of dual-sensor streamer. This is a $285 million investment in the future of seismic. At the current market price, covering the cost may take a little longer than was the case for her predecessors but this ship has an arsenal of advantages in a competitive market. 

Cost control has become a mantra for PGS, as it has for its clients. The Ramform Tethys like her Ramform Titan-class sisters is well adapted to the prevailing economic environment. Her operational cost per streamer is the lowest around, while the resolution and reliability of the dual-sensor, broadband GeoStreamer data she produces is by far the best currently available. Both commercially and operationally, this is another ace in the pack. The PGS fleet is 100% GeoStreamer, with approximately 60% ultra-high-end Ramform vessels, and 40% is top of the range Ramform Titan-class. 

Champagne for the price of lemonade

Competition in the current market is unsurprisingly razor sharp. Oil companies are exploring less and each prospect must be justified and risk assessed according to stringent requirements for project economics. While some clients are willing to sacrifice data quality for lower cost, most will choose the best product if they can get it within their budget.

Industry standards and commitments to health, safety, and environment remain unwavering. For contractors that means delivering the same level of excellence that oil companies have become accustomed to, at a lower cost. That can create a few dilemmas for buyers and sellers.

It is not possible to buy good champagne for the price of a soda, but value for money has never been better than it is now. Requests for tender indicate that oil companies still prefer larger surveys. This has been a trend over many years, whether the goal is improved data quality, greater regional understanding, higher efficiency or more reliable results. That is why, over 20 years since we launched the Ramform design they still rule the roost. The Ramform Tethys sets the standard for the next 25 years - delivering superior safety, reliability and data quality, with the best value per square kilometer of any seismic ship afloat.

A seismic shift

Across the industry 28 seismic vessels have been stacked or scrapped since 2013, starting with those at the wrong end of the industry cost curve. In a downturn the vessel retirement rate accelerates, and with that efficiency increases. PGS is retooling for the future. The Ramform Tethys matches all demands of the current market and is robust, flexible and ready to meet the needs of tomorrow.

Market indicators suggest that seismic surveys will continue to get larger, as the industry drives for even greater value for money in its search for new energy reserves. The network of towed equipment will continue to widen and lengthen. In addition to the sheer size of the spread, it is highly likely that the number and type of equipment units deployed will continue their explosive growth. This is fired by the step-change in imaging quality enabled by true-broadband data, and also by new survey methods. Creative new acquisition configurations are likely to require more rather than less gear onboard and in the water.

For traditional hull designs, this requires tradeoffs. Balance and ballast have to be carefully calculated. Meanwhile the Ramform Titan-class is unfettered by concerns about stability thus enabling extra winches and gear.

Powerhouse

On the Ramform Tethys, PGS has taken the opportunity to upgrade the generators adding an additional 1680 kW of power in each of the twin engine rooms. The mutually redundant power plants are equipped with six engines in total delivering 26.4 Megawats to drive three 6000 kW controllable pitch propellers, with plenty of redundancy. These super vessels can maintain a fuel efficient acquisition speed of nearly 5 knots while towing multiple sources and 15 sq. km of submerged recording and positioning equipment. Even operating a full recording array, endurance is projected at 90 -100 days. In a busy area, with frequent access to high quality, low cost fuel that is not an issue, but in remote locations this can make an important difference to project safety margins and profitability.

In addition to the obvious strength of her towing capabilities, her 24 reels and massive back deck have other operational advantages, including capacity to carry out running maintenance of sources and streamers, or re-configure the spread between projects. From a safety and environmental perspective, large efficient operations mean fewer vessel hours, with less exposure to risk and fewer emissions. Once again, in remote locations the advantages can be significant. 

Cool and calm means more data collected

The Ramform Tethys benefits from extraordinary sea keeping capabilities. The ultra-wide hull sits astride the waves in shallow and deep oceans. Everyone who has visited or worked onboard a Ramform Titan-class remarks upon the smooth ride.

Comfort and stability is about more than aiming at hoops on the basketball court. It can be measured in increased productivity. The key ratio is the state of calm required to perform ‘intellectual work’. Onboard a Ramform Titan-class that level is present over a much broader weather range than other vessels. This enables Ramform Tethys to take full advantage of the expanded uptime that is possible during GeoStreamer deep tow operations, without compromising safety. It enables better concentration and more focus in the instrument room, and on the bridge. It makes it easier to sleep and to land helicopters. Without distractions and fatigue, crew members are more focused on their jobs. Little wonder then, that the recordable incident frequency has reduced. In bad weather a conventional ship goes on high alert – with reduced productivity. Meanwhile, the crew of a Ramform Titan-class can maintain normal operations.

Some benefits are less tangible – like the improved communication made possible by locating maritime and seismic management on the same deck. The PGS One Culture initiative encourages both crews to work together on project HSEQ. The Ramform Tethys is designed with One Culture in mind and we attribute a stable improvement in safety performance largely to this initiative. 

Time to get to work

When the party is over in Japan, Ramform Tethys will head for Europe. Several clients have indicated their interest in our new flag ship and are keen to apply the latest technology to their projects. Statistics show that on the Ramform Titan-class we deploy and retrieve our equipment even on the largest projects, faster than our competitors. Together with greater operational capacity and increased uptime in marginal weather that means faster completion of surveys. For PGS and its clients, more reliable operations, and more efficient acquisition of better data is worth celebrating today, tomorrow and for a long time to come.

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