Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Bourbon SA, owner of the biggest fleet of supply and crew ships for the oil industry, reported fourth-quarter revenue rose 23 percent as more vessels were rented at higher prices.
Sales in the last three months of 2011 rose to 273.1 million euros ($362.1 million) from 221.3 million euros a year earlier, the Paris-based company said in a statement. Bourbon commissioned 39 new vessels during the period.
Daily rates for vessels “start to improve with the market,” Chief Executive Officer Christian Lefevre said on a conference call with journalists. “We are confident this will continue this year.”
Bourbon bolstered its vessel-building program last year in anticipation that explorers will choose more modern vessels. Under a $2 billion expansion plan, Bourbon plans to own 600 ships by 2015, up from 437.
The fleet’s average utilization rate reached 85.7 percent in the fourth quarter, an improvement of 4.6 percentage points from the year-earlier period, according to the statement.
“Increased demand for offshore service vessels should continue in the coming years,” Bourbon said. The “sharp market upturn” stems from more spending by oil companies, increased drilling and contractors’ strong order books.
Daily rates could still rise by 10 percent to 30 percent depending on the market segments over the next two or three years, Lefevre said. Prices are well under highs reached in 2007 and 2008, he said.
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