Offshore energy market conditions change rapidly, with consequential demand changes for installation equipment, floating units and support vessels. Newbuilding requires a substantial investment and often takes (too) much time to obtain maximum benefit from an emerging opportunity. Upgrading or conversion of an existing unit can be a good alternative.

There are eight different hull types to choose from for floating offshore units. The most common vessel type is the ship-shaped monohull. Within the large pool of existing merchant and offshore vessels, both new and ageing, there are many suitable candidates for upgrades and conversions. Such a new lease of life expands their operational and economical portfolio and serves the offshore industry in reaching spectacular advances in transport, construction and installation performance.

When upgrading or converting existing units multiple tiers of capability increase are distinguished. Each tier brings increasing complexity, risks and re-building costs. Options range from life extension and modernization of an older vessel, temporary conversion, capacity upgrade, adding functions, changing the present function, to ultimately the complete transformation of an older merchant cargo vessel into a brand new offshore unit. Major vessel conversions can be competitive with newbuilding options, provided that such a complex conversion project is prepared and managed well.

New insights into the market drivers for upgrading and conversion of floating offshore assets are provided. The broad range of offshore vessel modifications presented is an industry first. Some remarkable examples of capacity upgrades, double conversions and complete vessel makeovers are presented.

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