x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Lamprell anchors wind-farm ship contract with Seajacks

Wins a US$129 million (Dh473.8m) contract to build a vessel for installing offshore wind turbines,

Lamprell, the UAE oilfield services company, has won a US$129 million (Dh473.8m) contract to build a vessel for installing offshore wind turbines, its third such award this year. Under the contract, Lamprell is to deliver a 10,000-tonne "jack-up" vessel in 2012 to the UK company Seajacks. Jack-up vessels, like the barges used for oil drilling in the Gulf's shallow waters, have extensible legs that can prop the ship above the sea surface, transforming it into a work platform.

Seajacks is engaged in installing wind farms in the southern North Sea and plans to double its current jack-up fleet from two to four vessels by 2012. The company has an option for Lamprell to build a second $129m vessel within a 12-month exercise period. "This award is significant because it marks another major contract for us in what has already been a busy year for new business," said Nigel McCue, the chief executive of Lamprell. "This win reaffirms our belief that we are well positioned to be leaders in ? a market we believe will continue to expand rapidly."

Lamprell's stock climbed more than 9 per cent to 227.6 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Friday following the announcement. In February, the company, which operates two yards in Sharjah and one in Dubai, won two contracts with a combined value of $320.4m to build wind-turbine installation vessels for Fred Olsen Windcarrier, a Norwegian installer of North Sea offshore wind farms. Those boats are being built at Lamprell's Jebel Ali yard in Dubai.

In January, the UK government called for the construction of 32 gigawatts of offshore wind-power capacity by 2020, or enough to meet a quarter of the country's electricity needs. But although there has been plenty of money directed towards manufacturing giant wind turbines, investment in vessels to install them has lagged. "The targets are very ambitious and the supply chain isn't there for it to materialise," Ian Johnson, the head of E.ON UK's Robin Rigg wind project, said in April.

That has created an opportunity for shipbuilders as far away as the Gulf, where oilfield services companies have a wealth of experience in designing and building jack-up vessels. For Lamprell, the "green energy" contracts have not come a moment too soon. So far this year, its new contracts related to the oil and gas sector have totalled just $90.4m. Last year, the company cut staff and hired less equipment as Gulf oil producers drilled fewer wells and analysts said several projects on Lamprell's order book were "dubious".

tcarlisle@thenational.ae