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JACK-UP VESSELS


FEATURE SPONSOR


VESSEL SCHEDULING


Inadequate vessel scheduling has become one of the many logistical complications encountered in European offshore wind. Developers are facing substantial penalties for projects that overrun their allocated construction period, placing pressure on vessel operators to ensure that delays in delivery times are kept to a minimum.


SIGNIFICANT MARKET EXPANSION The installation vessel market has expanded significantly over the last 5 years to include a fleet of highly capable, specialised units. Heightened demand had previously resulted in back-to- back contracts being issued years in advance, in the hope of ensuring that installation schedules and charter periods run consistently. The utility of jack-up vessels teamed with the race to hit 2020 renewable targets has rendered them a pivotal part of the development process.


VESSEL AVAILABILITY


Contracts awarded to MPI Offshore in April this year highlighted the importance of vessel availability. The company will install at Swedish project Kårehamn, the UK’s Round 2 Humber Gateway and Amrumbank West, located in Germany.


The latter two projects will be installed by the same vessel, MPI Discovery, which will be required to periodically transit between the sites installing a total of 153 turbines. The contracts are a result of a six-year charter deal with E.ON who will now utilise the vessel on many of their upcoming projects, ensuring they have the necessary equipment at their disposal to optimise available weather windows and to plan appropriately for future developments.


SECURING THE PROJECT PIPELINE An alternative to long term chartering of jack-ups is for the developer to build and operate their own vessels. RWE Innogy welcomed two new installation units in 2012 hoping to provide a secure, complete and ambitious project pipeline.


However, after stating that it would be more financially viable to charter vessels from elsewhere, RWE has decided to sell the vessels towards the end of 2013. The lack of confidence in the current market was again highlighted earlier in the year, with the announcement from A2Sea that they are unlikely to invest in further new builds until 2016 at the earliest.


INVESTMENT


Due to the myriad of complications frequently encountered in offshore development, vessel ownership and fleet expansion will continue to be a high-risk, long-term return, investment. Arranging finance for such specialist vessels becomes increasingly difficult when short charters, rather than lengthy partnerships, are being offered. In addition to the feasibility of repowering and the estimated rate of large component replacement, firm commitments from developers will be required in order for European-based owners to confidently invest further resources.


4C Offshore www.4coffshore.com


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www.windenergynetwork.co.uk


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