Norwegian subsea contractor Ocean Installer and shipbuilding group Vard have entered into a partnership agreement to develop a turbine installation vessel for the fast-growing offshore wind market.
Ocean Installer chief executive Odd Strømsnes said, “This all-Norwegian collaboration between Ocean Installer and Vard builds on our experience developed over many years of work on the Norwegian continental shelf.”
Mr Strømsnes said Ocean Installer is ‘already prequalified for certain large offshore wind projects’ and is participating in tenders in the US and Europe, responding to installation projects planned by Norwegian and international energy companies.
He said the company had pre-qualified for projects partly on the basis of the design it is working on with Vard and partly on its merits as an oil and gas contractor with competence in complex project execution.
“A change of direction is very important for the Norwegian oil and gas supply chain,” Mr Strømsnes said. “Long-term it will have to replace its existing business with something else.
“We have expertise and solid revenues from oil and gas and these resources are now being dedicated to establishing us as a leading player in the offshore wind space.”
Speaking exclusively to OWJ, Mr Strømsnes said he hoped the design of the vessel will be completed later in 2020, hopefully in the next six months. That would enable the company to order a vessel and have it ready for the 2024 offshore construction season.
Mr Strømsnes said a contract to build a vessel would be placed subject to the outcome of ongoing tenders and pre-qualification procedures. Asked about funding for such a large and costly unit, Mr Strømsnes said the company would be seeking industrial or financial partners.
With fast growth in the offshore wind market in mind, Ocean Installer recently recruited several people to work in the sector. These include Even Larsen, former chief executive of Fred Olsen Ocean and Olav Hetland, former senior vice president for offshore wind at Statkraft.
Vard Group general manager Erik Haakonsholm said of the plan to develop a new vessel design, “We will jointly develop one of the world’s most advanced vessels for installation of future offshore wind turbines, which are too large for the existing turbine installation fleet.
“By being able to install wind turbine components of more than 1,000 tonnes up to 150 m above sea level this ship is expected to be highly attractive for construction of large-scale windfarms in the coming years.”
Vard has extensive experience in design and construction of offshore construction vessels and special-purpose ships.
“Energy companies in Norway are winning large international tenders for the construction of offshore windfarms, so it is natural for us to get into the game,” Ocean Installer and Vard said.