Experience on European projects means survey companies in Europe and Scandinavia are well-placed to win work in the offshore wind sector in the US
MMT has provided the offshore oil and gas industry with high-resolution marine surveys, asset integrity and construction support services for many years, but increasingly the focus of its attention is the renewable energy sector, and offshore wind in particular.
The company recently established a presence in Boston, Massachusetts, at the heart of the fast-growing US offshore wind industry, to take advantage of the need for geophysical and geotechnical marine surveys along the US east coast. It has teamed up with CSA Ocean Sciences (CSA), a provider of marine environmental services based in the US to address the market for survey services in the oil and gas and offshore wind markets.
Speaking exclusively to OWJ, MMT’s chief commercial officer Nils Ingvarson explains that the alliance with CSA would allow the companies to provide complementary services for the Americas offshore market and deliver the kind of comprehensive solution operators looking for integrated services increasingly need. Together, they plan to offer combined geophysical/geotechnical and environmental services from a high specification survey vessel.
“CSA has a lot of experience in offshore and near-shore environmental projects and in nearshore geophysical surveys. We have a lot of experience further offshore. It is a good match,” Mr Ingvarson explains.
“We want to help to fill an emerging gap in the market for vessels and survey services,” Mr Ingvarson says. “There are significant requirements for survey work in connection with the many offshore wind projects on the northeast coast of the US in 2021 and 2022. We plan to deploy one of our high-specification survey vessels to the east coast of the US in time for the 2020 season, to meet emerging project requirements there.” Depending on the requirement and on timing, this would be one of MMT’s offshore survey and remotely operated vehicle vessels.
“Demand in the US offshore wind market is ramping up,” Mr Ingvarson says. “There are a lot of potential clients with survey needs. It is a big potential market in the US but the offshore wind market in Europe is also growing quickly. Offshore wind is growing quickly elsewhere, too, and there is likely to be a shortage of suitable mid-size survey vessels suitable for this kind work.” That being the case, he says, if the market grows as expected, MMT would not rule out chartering-in another survey vessel to meet demand.
Unlike some other parts of the US vessel market, survey vessels are not subject to the Jones Act so US-built vessels are not essential, although for commercial reasons an alliance with a US company is important. That makes the evolving market offshore Massachusetts, New York and other northeast states an attractive one for companies such as MMT.
Mr Ingvarson says MMT is also taking steps to secure resources it will need in the US market, in addition to vessels. These include personnel, of course, but in the longer term MMT could also use unmanned underwater vehicles, particularly for near-shore survey work.
The company is also addressing the regulatory environment in the US, and how it differs from that in Europe. When it comes environmental protection and protection of species unique to the east coast of the US, any company working there will need to be fully conversant with – and comply with – federal and state regulations. They also need to understand the requirements of the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency that manages development of resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. Then there are local content requirements to take account of.
As highlighted previously by OWJ, in July 2019, MMT was awarded a contract for site characterisation work on behalf of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency for the Ten Noorden van de Waddeneilanden zones, one of a number of offshore wind sites the Dutch Government hopes to develop between now and 2030. Early next year, Mr Ingvarson anticipates, MMT could have similar projects lined up across the Atlantic.