Tidewater chief executive Quintin Kneen is refusing to put a number on it, but he expects his fleet to earn substantial rates as the offshore vessel market finally recovers.

Kneen said the Houston-based, New York-listed offshore giant saw it sfleet earn $20,000 per day at the peak of the last market more than a decade ago and that there is reason to believe that number will be higher next year.

“The fleet today is a much better and higher spec fleet than the Tidewater fleet was at the end of the last cycle,” Kneen said on the company’s second-quarter earnings call on Friday, noting its 2018 merger with GulfMark and its recent acquisition of Swire Pacific Offshore improved its fleet.

“I would expect to see day rates in excess of those peak day rates in this coming cycle.”

During the call, Kneen declined twice to give forward projections on rates, once for the coming quarter and once for 2023, but he said there were multiple reasons to believe the beleaguered market was finally picking up.

“I don’t see anything that I believe in the next three years will add considerable supply to the market. There are not enough boats to reactivate. There’s not enough people to crew the boats. There’s not enough parts to reactivate the boats. The newbuild economics still aren’t here to justify a newbuild,” he said.

“Over the next three years, I see this to be vessel constrained market that will push up day rates.”

For the quarter — for which it posted a $25.6m loss — Tidewater's fleet earned average rates of $12,544 per day, up from $10,435 per day for the same period last year.

Its ships operating in the Americas fetched the highest rates, averaging $16,569 per day rising from $13,162 per day for the second quarter of 2021.

In the earnings release, Kneen said the second quarter was an inflection point and that the market was turning up.

The offshore sector was hit hard by the pandemic, with oil companies cutting back spending as demand cratered. But with oil prices still at elevated levels and demand picking up, oil companies are beginning to drill again.

Kneen said he did not expect ships coming out of lay-up to put a dent in vessel supply, as ships stuck in lay-up for several years would likely stay there.

The effects, he said, would primarily be on the low end of the market.