A £20 million contract for the offshore renewable energy sector will create 110 jobs and underpin existing posts at Harland & Wolff and presents a real opportunity for future growth the company says.
The contract with offshore wind farm development firm ScottishPower Renewables will see the yard construct 24 massive steel foundation jackets for the East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm.
The project is being carried out by Lamprell, an international provider of fabrication, engineering and contracting services.
The remaining jackets will be produced at Lamprell’s Jebel Ali and Sharjah yards in the United Arab Emirates.
But the award of the UK component of the deal to the Belfast yard has been hailed as coup and potential lifesaver for the business which has suffered from the decline of the oil industry.
“Basically, 90 of our exisiting workforce will have their jobs secured, but there will also be 11o new people required,” said director of busines development Jonathan Guest.
“Obviously those are for the duration of the contract but, because of the type of work we’re now doing and the industry that we’re trying to get into, the aim is to attract more work on the back of this and to turn those 110 temprorary jobs into 110 permanent j0bs.”
Standing over 65 metres tall, and weighing more than 845 tonnes, the three-legged steel jacket structures will be nearly as prominent on the Belfast skyline as the famous Samson and Goliath cranes which continue to give the yard a unique edge over rivlas.
In addition, Mr Guest said the yard intended to work with Invest NI and the Department of the Economy to encourage and grow local skills .
While an oil rig contract generally lasts for just three to four months, he said the 12 to 15 months for this project presented better opportunities.
“This is very much building for the longer term future,” said Mr Guest.
“We intend now to work extremely closely with Invest and the Department to try a see how we can get those skills in and see how we can develop that.
Work on the project is due to begin in the spring next year and be complete by later 2018.
Mr Guest said there was doubt about the importance to the contract at this time.
“This is a stepping stone. It’s undoubtedly a yard saving type contract but it’s a stepping stone for us then to drive forward and get taken seriously in the marketplace.”
East Anglia ONE is a £2.5 billion offshore windfarm, which will generate 714MW of electricity when completed in 2020, enough to power 500,000 homes per year. ScottishPower Renewables is on target to deliver an industry-leading 50% UK content across the life of the project.
The project will be the most cost efficient offshore windfarm ever to confirm construction, and is leading the way to meet the UK Government’s cost reduction targets.
‘H&W are delighted to work with such a prestigious company as ScottishPower Renewables, on a project of nationally significant importance,” said chief executive Robert J Cooper.
“Harland and Wolff have always been renowned for their unsurpassed quality and our collaboration with Lamprell Energy enhances our offer in terms of capacity and cost effectiveness.
“We look forward to a successful relationship with ScottishPower Renewables and Lamprell Energy.’
Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “East Anglia ONE will be the best value offshore windfarm ever constructed, at the same time as delivering industry-leading levels of UK content.
“Both of these considerations have been prominent in our thinking during the process of placing these contracts and we are pleased that Belfast will play important roles in delivering this project, supporting hundreds of skilled jobs.
“The facilities in Belfast are excellent for supporting offshore wind construction, as we experienced on our West of Duddon Sands project.
“We hope that the successful delivery of this contract will lead to even more opportunities in the offshore wind industry for Belfast.