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COUNTRY REPORTTHE NETHERLANDS


New barges and tugs arriving at the port of Rotterdam either for towing into the hinterland for finishing, or for finishing at the port.


As the pieces become larger, the need for


specialist equipment also increases. “Monopiles used to be 6 m in diameter but are now up to 8 m, and the industry is even talking about going to a 10-11 m diameter.”


Wind coalition The port is a member of the Rotterdam Offshore Wind Coalition, a group that aims to make the city Europe’s offshore wind energy hotspot. Since it was established three years ago,


the coalition has worked together on various developments –mainly on supporting offshore wind-related projects and innovations, lobbying in the field of energy transition, knowledge-sharing and strengthening the labour market position. Projects currently under way include the


development of composite towers, new piling techniques and the expansion of physical space for marshalling activities. Of course, the oil and gas industry has


always played an important role in the port and Romeijn expects it to remain so for quite some time. “The facilities here, such as tank storage and production, are state-of- the-art so it makes sense to use them rather than other facilities around the world.” He said the port is now ready for the


decommissioning phase of North Sea oil rigs. “We have all the skills and facilities needed in the port, such as steel recycling and companies that deal with hazardous waste, as well as the equipment to handle the outsize pieces.” However, demand is still at a relatively


low level, with the oil companies postponing decommissioning and, with land an expensive commodity in Rotterdam, companies based there are choosing to take other work that pays better. Romeijn said the port sees itself as a


facilitator, “making sure the infrastructure is www.heavyliftpfi.com


right but also playing a role in helping make connections between companies to generate mutual benefits – which all leads to a better business climate. That is a very important part of our job.” For heavy ocean transportation and


engineering specialist Boskalis, the market has been adversely affected recently by various factors. As it stated in its most recent half year results (August 2019): “In the offshore wind market, circumstances have changed as a consequence of the move to zero subsidies and increased competition.” Peter Berdowski, the group’s ceo,


explained: “Over the past six years we have built up a strong leading position in the offshore cable market in Northwest Europe. We have successfully completed many projects in close and constructive cooperation with clients. “Recently, however, we are being


confronted with a drastically changed attitude of many of these clients. Under pressure from the disappearance of subsidies on wind farms, clients are keenly looking for ways to reduce costs. This has resulted in a considerably more tense situation in the execution of projects and an accumulation of disputes on projects and lengthy claim procedures. “Although we are confident that we will


We are being confronted with a drastically changed attitude of many of these clients. Under pressure from the disappearance of subsidies on wind farms, clients are keenly looking for ways to


reduce costs. – Peter Berdowski, Boskalis


be able to recover a large proportion of the outstanding claims in the future, we have prudently taken provisions on a limited number of offshore projects, whereby we reviewed the entire offshore portfolio.” However he remains optimistic: “We


expect a positive contribution from the offshore division for the second half of the year and we see clear signs of recovery for the medium term.” And in its third quarter trading update in


November 2019, Boskalis reported that overall “the utilisation of heavy transport vessels was stable compared with the first half of the year, while the project-specific assets (cable-laying, crane and fall pipe vessels) saw improvements. “The high-end transport market is


starting to show cautious signs of recovery following a number of quiet years during which transport was wholly dependent on the spot market.”


Outlook The Netherlands was recently crowned the most competitive economy in Europe, and fourth globally, by the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Index. The report praised the Netherlands for its


“well-developed innovation ecosystem and institutional framework”, citing “a highly skilled workforce, vibrant business dynamism and advanced innovation capability”. The International Monetary Fund reports


that the Dutch economy “has grown faster than the euro area average over the past few years, reflecting recovering consumption and investment, and strong net exports”. So, as long as the challenges related to the


nitrogen emissions rulings are overcome – or at least mitigated to a great extent – the rest of the economic environment for the heavy lift market remains relatively positive. HLPFI


January/February 2020 129


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