LONDON Dec 5 Oil engineering firm Petrofac
sought to reassure investors on Thursday that its plans
to spend more than a year's earnings diversifying into offshore
pipe-laying services are worthwhile.
The British company is investing $700 million in a vessel
for installing oil and gas infrastructure which it says it needs
to tap growth in offshore projects.
However, some investors and analysts regard the offshore
market as crowded and risky, with subsea specialists like Saipem
, Aker and Subsea 7 hit by project
delays and profit warnings this year.
Shares in Petrofac, which specialises in onshore projects,
especially in the Middle East, are down 29 percent so far this
year, due to investor concern about the move into offshore as
well as a cautious company outlook for the next two years.
"If this capability was available to rent in the market,
believe me we would do that ... This investment represents the
minimum to access this high-end market," Chief Executive Ayman
Asfari told analysts at a strategy day in London.
The new vessel, called the Petrofac 6,000, will be available
by early 2017 and will help the company get work from national
and international oil companies in places like West Africa and
Mexico, he said.
Asfari said the vessel would not be rented out at a day-rate
price, but would be used to enable the company to execute bigger
and more challenging engineering, procurement and construction
(EPC) offshore projects.
The vessel will have a 5,000 tonne crane on board for
installing and decommissioning oil and gas infrastructure and
will also be able to lay pipelines.
It is the main part of a $1 billion investment in Petrofac's
offshore division over the next five years.