Service ship pioneer Esvagt is closing in on a potential partner to work with in the booming US offshore wind market
The last 18 months have seen vessel owners target the fast-growing US offshore wind market. Among the latest is the Danish company that pioneered the concept of service operation vessels (SOVs).
Speaking exclusively to OWJ, Esvagt deputy chief executive Kristian Ole Jakobsen says the US market was the logical next step for the company, which is already a leader in the market in the North Sea and Baltic.
“The North American offshore wind industry is emerging and Esvagt sees significant potential in bringing its competence and track record to the US market,” Mr Jakobsen says.
“Most global companies in the offshore wind industry are looking at the US,” says Mr Jakobsen. “We have taken a decision to enter the market on the east coast and are looking for a partner.”
Mr Jakobsen tells OWJ he believes the growth potential of the North American market “matches what we have seen and been part of in the North Sea.”
Esvagt’s deputy chief executive says the company had been examining potential opportunities outside northwest Europe as the offshore wind industry goes global but believes the market on the US east coast is the closest to that in Europe. “It is a similar environment to Europe and similar politically and water-wise,” he tells OWJ.
The big difference in the US market compared to the North Sea and Baltic is, of course, the Jones Act, which requires US-flagged vessels to be used, hence Esvagt’s search for a US-based partner with which to work. The Jones Act governs vessels operating in US waters and is administered by Customs and Border Protection.
In recent weeks, other well-known vessel owners such as UK-based Bibby Marine Services have also teamed up with marine service providers in the US to provide Jones Act-compliant service operation vessels for east coast windfarms. The British company announced in July 2019 that it plans to work with Resolve Marine Services, which has nearly four decades of experience as a Jones Act operator.
Since Esvagt first entered the SOV market, the Danish operator has secured a leading position in the European market, with six purpose-built SOVs operating in the North Sea and Baltic.
“The SOV concept we pioneered in Europe is perfectly suited for the task in the US,” Mr Kristiansen says. “We can make a significant difference. We bring a proven track record of safe and efficient operations, and vast experience in offshore wind operations.
“Offshore wind may be an emerging industry in North America but the key players value a competent and experienced supplier. We believe that fact will provide us with a competitive advantage.
“We are looking for a strategic partner in the US with whom we can establish the right kind of operation, an entity that shares our values and with whom we will enter what is a very exciting market.”
One of Esvagt’s latest ventures in the offshore wind market has seen it team up with EWPL Ocean to provide blade assessment services using unmanned aerial vehicles flown from its vessels combined with artificial intelligence to analyse the condition of turbine blades.
Working closely with Esvagt, EWPL Ocean recently provided blade inspection services for client Eneco on 60 wind turbines in the Prinses Amalia offshore windfarm in the Netherlands.
The pioneering blade inspection concept increases flexibility, reduces costs and enables asset owners to optimise repair and maintenance strategies.