Harvey Gulf International Marine deploys the only LNG-powered fleet of offshore towing vessels in the Gulf of Mexico.
“This isn’t my job: this is my business. I don’t need a job. This is my mistress, my love. This is what I was raised to do.”
Shane Guidry isn’t waxing philosophical—running Harvey Gulf International Marine is his life. The privately-owned and operated marine transportation company has been a part of the fabric of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast and the oil and gas industry of the Gulf of Mexico for over 60 years and plans to have a sustained presence for decades to come.
As long as Guidry is at the helm, this will certainly be the case.
He dives into his business at 6 am every morning, just like he has the last 28 years. And not just your typical CEO duties—everything. From operations and safety to administration and sales, no one at the manager or VP level makes a decision without him.
He wants to know every engine that’s down in real time, within five minutes. Every thruster problem, every safety issue, any problems at the shipyard. Real time, within five minutes. He provides a solution on how things should move forward seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“That’s the difference between us and a public company,” he said. “I run it like I own it all. I’m involved in every decision. Big companies tend to get away from that and put those decisions in the hands of VPs: not us.”
You may be wondering from where Guidry’s passion for the business and industry comes. Harvey Gulf is a family business, and has been ever since companies like Exxon and Texaco came to town and hired his grandfather’s oyster boats to deliver supplies in the mid 1950s.
Numa J. Guidry moved from New Orleans to Galliano, Louisiana in 1941 to become an oyster fisherman. And for nearly 15 years, that’s what he did. But as the big oil and gas companies began taking an interest in the opportunities in the Gulf, business opportunities shifted.
In 1955, Captain Guidry assembled a fleet of inland towing vessels to service the Gulf Coast transportation market, calling his company Harvey Canal Towing Company. Ten years later, Captain Numa's two sons joined the family enterprise and helped expand the company into the offshore ocean towing and rig moving industry.
The company's name changed to reflect the new direction: Harvey Gulf International Marine, Inc.
Shane Guidry’s father—who was 24 at the time—took the reins in the 1970s. Harvey Gulf maintained and operated a fleet of both offshore and inland towing vessels that towed, among other things, jack-up and semi-submersible drilling rigs, bulk cargo barges, and large structures and facilities laden on barges.
In 1972, the second-generation leader sold the company’s 51 push tugs and put money into offshore vessels. The offshore tug business was the focus of the business through the ’80s and early ’90s.
The early ’90s also brought about the beginning of Shane Guidry’s official tenure with the business, though he had been on board since he was a child.
“There’s no college education you can get to run a boat business,” he said. “You grow up in it. I remember being 10 years old, sitting in big glass buildings in downtown New Orleans listening to my dad have meetings with customers.
“I’ve worked on and off the boat, in operation safety, I’ve learned how to build boats. My dad taught me all of this, and my dad learned everything from his dad. Now my son is learning the business from me.”
The Third Transformation
Shane’s son will have some big shoes to fill. From the time he took a leadership role in 1994 to 2008, Shane Guidry set a new course for the business. Harvey Gulf transitioned from a full-service towing operator to one specializing in offshore towing with a focus on towing large jack-up and semi-submersible rigs in the deepwater and ultra-deepwater off the Gulf of Mexico.
As part of this specialization, Harvey Gulf divested the company's liquefied petroleum gas division, sold all of its inland towing vessels, and replaced them with larger, more powerful offshore towing vessels.
This third big transformation period of Harvey Gulf came to an end in 2008 when the Guidry family wanted to take a new direction, one that led away from the oil and gas industry.
Shane Guidry went to New York and found a partner—The Jordan Company, L.P.—to buy out the 76 percent of the company the rest of the family owned. The rest, as they say, is history.
“In the past things were run separately. My uncle and his family ran operations and safety, my family ran admin and new build. When you have a company divided like that, there are two separate cultures and no one leader to answer to or to direct. It was time to pull everything together,” Shane Guidry said.
“Family can be tough. Investors don’t make emotional decisions, they make decisions based on the right economics for the business. But families make decisions emotionally. That’s why you don’t see a lot of companies with fourth, fifth, and sixth generations running it.”
When Shane Guidry’s son takes over, he’ll be the fourth generation of the Guidry family at the helm. As Shane’s only son, chances of family butting heads will be slim to none.
A Decade of TechToday, Harvey Gulf's fleet represents a state-of-the-art collection of offshore support vessels ranging from 175 feet to 340 feet, encompassing supply vessels, fast supply vessels, and construction vessels powered by the latest technology available with industry-leading cargo handling capabilities.
Guidry has guided Harvey Gulf to this point through a few very strategic moves.
“I sold off all the small stuff. I saw where the tug business was dying out, so I focused on building and buying supply boat companies. I could see where LNG boats were going to be in high demand on a global basis, so we invested there before anyone else did.
“It makes a ton of sense to continue to transform. Today we own the largest construction boat company in the Gulf. It’s about having the vision, understanding your customers needs, and building for the future.”
Leading with LNGThe future of the industry is undoubtedly LNG-powered vessels. Under Guidry’s guidance, Harvey Gulf is the first company in the Gulf with a fleet of LNG-powered boats.
“Big companies like Shell and Exxon are heading in the same direction, so it makes sense to support their and other customers’ needs,” Guidry said.
LNG vessels have nearly zero impact on the environment when it comes to emissions. Carbon fuel burns clean, making the carbon footprint almost non-existent. It’s an even bigger deal when you understand how regulations have tightened over the past several years.
Guidry explained that the EPA is increasingly involved in the permit and approval process for offshore oil and gas drilling activity in the Gulf. Regulations are stringent, including one stating that only a certain amount of emissions from a drilling rig, its production rig, and anything to do with the drill for a 25-mile circumference has to be under a certain amount.
The four LNG vessels Harvey Gulf deploys help its customers and their projects remain under the allowable tolerances for emissions.
“None of our competitors had the foresight to build these,” Guidry said. “Companies like us because we are clean and green.”
New VesselHarvey Gulf recently brought a fourth LNG-powered vessel—the M/V Harvey Freedom—to the seas. The Freedom is based out of Port Fourchon, Louisiana and has begun a five-year charter with a major oil and gas company.
The facts and figures are impressive: the vessel is capable of carrying 253,000 USG of fuel oil, 18,000 oil barrels of liquid mud, 1,600 oil barrels of methanol, 10,250 ft3 of dry cement and 78,000 USG of LNG fuel.
But its environmental designations are even more impressive. In addition to being powered by cleaner burning natural gas, the vessel is ENVIRO+, Green Passport certified by ABS, making this ship and Harvey Gulf’s other three the most environmental-friendly OSVs in the Gulf of Mexico.
Harvey Gulf's focus on no harm to the environment is further exemplified by the six dual-fueled LNG powered offshore supply vessels under construction as well as the first-of-its-kind LNG fueling facility in Port Fourchon, Louisiana.
“To be honest, we didn’t have a choice when it came to building the fueling facility. We had six vessels that needed the fuel and no where to fuel them,” Guidry said. “We had to step out there and build a fueling facility, which is not an easy construction job. We own the shipyard that built it, and LNG fueling facilities are 40 percent more costly to build that traditional fuel facilities.”
Once again, Harvey Gulf is executing on things that no other competitor in the industry is doing.
Louisiana Proud LNG isn’t the only place where it’s at in the oil and gas industry. Guidry understands the importance of having a diverse portfolio of offerings to take care of and service all of Harvey Gulf’s customers’ needs.
“We have LNG vessels and not-LNG vessels. We have boats ranging from 175 feet long to 300-plus feet long. We have fast supply vessels for hot shot cargos. We have construction vessels of two different sizes. We try to cover it all.”
All of Harvey Gulf’s vessels are built in the U.S. and made from American steel, by American steel workers, and run by American employees. It’s third LNG-powered vessel is the largest U.S. Jones Act-compliance vessel of its kind.
Guidry and his leadership team sit down with clients to understand their projected needs in five to 10 years, then build the boats that no one else has to service those needs.
“When they are ready for them, they’ll charter them,” he said.
“Harvey Gulf is the only fleet with a 165 metric ton crane that can make the big, heavy lifts in deep water. Our vessels sleep 150 in 87 rooms that all have state-of-the-art interiors. Everyone here can see the difference.”
Operational ExcellenceNo one compares to Harvey Gulf’s technology prowess, that much has been made clear. The company’s operational excellence is also on a level that isn’t often reached in the industry either.
“We have a safety record that can’t compare. 99.2 percent utilization. 0.8 percent downtime in an industry where average downtime is between 8 and 10 percent. When you charter a Harvey boat, it will run every day.”
The strong family tradition of Harvey Gulf has at least another generation dedicated to maintaining its leadership role in the Gulf and pushing forward into uncharted waters.
As for the current leadership, one thing has always been—and will always be—certain under Shane Guidry.
“Harvey Gulf is building the boats of the future.”
Harvey Gulf International Marine, LLC is a marine transportation company that specializes in providing offshore supply and multi-purpose support vessels for deepwater operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Harvey Gulf is founded on the premise that superior performance and safer operations provide its customers value and satisfaction.
Harvey Gulf achieves superior performance through designing and equipping its vessels to meet their customers' current and anticipated needs for their deepwater operations. This results in providing customers with the largest cargo capacities for offshore supply services and greatest capability and flexibility for offshore construction services. Harvey Gulf also designs and equips some of its offshore supply vessels for dual operation as dive/construction and mooring line support vessels, affording greater flexibility to its customers.
Harvey Gulf operates the safest vessels through dedication of resources and gives top priority to safety. This requires continuous training of all employees, development, and improvement of safety management systems, and maintaining and equipping vessels with the most modern safety features. All Harvey Gulf vessels are ABS classed and USCG certified. All offshore supply and multipurpose support vessels are ISM, SOLAS, and DP2 certified.