Rates for platform supply vessels (PSVs) in the North Sea have hit eight-year highs as the tonnage pool shrinks.

Clarksons Research reported the offshore ship market gathering momentum after a downturn lasting years in a previously over-tonnaged sector.

Spot earnings for large PSVs rose 16% in the week ended 13 May to hit a “strong” £21,057 ($25,800) per day.

This is up 131% on the 10-year trend and the highest level since 2014, the UK research company said.

Norwegian broker Westshore reported Rem Offshore’s 5,100-dwt Rem Supporter (built 2010) fixed by Total at an even higher rate.

The ship secured £26,000 per day for supply duties over two weeks, plus two weeks of options, starting from the middle of June.

The ship had earlier been fixed for mid-May work at £27,500.

Westshore put utilisation at 87% for PSVs on Monday in the North Sea.

Managing director Solve Hoyrem told TradeWinds there were fewer spot vessels trading now due to many term contracts being awarded earlier this year.

There are also more rigs active than a year ago and a “general optimism” is back in the market, the broker added.

Ships being dragged away

“We also see increased activity internationally pulling vessels out of the North Sea,” Hoyrem said.

Only one of 16 operational PSVs is charter-free in Norway, and just one of 19 is available in UK waters.

China’s CNOOC is looking for a vessel for a week’s work from 30 May in the North Sea.

There are still six ships laid up in North Sea ports.

Anchor-handler tug supply (AHTS) rates are £42,500 per day.

Clarksons’ cross-sector ClarkSea Index of major shipping rates rose 1% week-on-week to $44,054 per day on 13 May.

This was a second consecutive post-2008 high, with the average in the year to date up 157% on the 10-year trend.