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OFFSHORE SPOTLIGHT More complex surveys in more difficult locations require both new ships and the latest processing technology Dolphin stirs up seismic sector Newcomer plaNs to double its market share over Next two years by Paul Bartlett, Contributing Editor D ominated by a mere handful of heavyweights, the global seismic business is becoming increasingly sophisticated, with barriers to entry rising steadily. But a newcomer from Norway is making waves by winning lucrative contracts with some of the sector’s key customers. Norway’s Dolphin Geophysical is aiming to become the fifth largest seismic firm by doubling its market share over the next two years. Listed in 2010, Dolphin was set up by a group of seismic professionals with experience at companies including CGG Veritas, Geoconsult, Western Geco and Wavefield. Clients include the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, Shell, Statoil and TGS. Dolphin currently operates a fleet of three 3D seismic vessels and an ice-class 2D unit, but the fleet will double to eight vessels between now and 2015 with the delivery of three high-end newbuildings and the 2002-built Geo Atlantic which is to be modified to pull 14 streamers, instead of eight, at an unnamed Singapore shipyard. The ships are owned by Norwegian owners GC Rieber and Sanco Shipping and are typically fixed on three- to five-year timecharters, with option periods at capped rates. A fifth new vessel, on which GC Rieber is said to hold an option, is being considered. Dolphin’s sparkling financial performance has delighted its shareholders, sources report, and suggests that its executives have indeed hit upon a timely business strategy. Since its NOK2 shares were listed two-and-a-half years ago, they have risen nearly four-fold to more than NOK7. The outlook for the year ahead is positive, according to CEO Atle Jacobsen, with a $150 million backlog of work in hand. Based on preliminary figures, the company made a profit before tax of $39 million on revenue of $221 million and the book value of its multi-client seismic data library has climbed from zero to almost $40 million in two years. Dolphin now has a market capitalization of around $440 million. So what is the key to this success in a specialized sector not known for welcoming newcomers? Jacobsen says that fortunes in the seismic sector are closely linked to the oil price which, consistently more than $100 recently, bodes well for E&P spending and seismic survey requirements in the months ahead. But he also concedes that the company’s timing has been fortunate. More complex surveys in more difficult locations require both April 2013 MARINE LOG 21

Apr 2013 Marine Log Magazine

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