Offshore Wind Finance Blows into Oil and Gas

Wind, oil and gas: an impression of Jan de Nul’s offshore capable new-build crane vessel, Les Alizes (Image: Jan de Nul)
Wind, oil and gas: an impression of Jan de Nul’s offshore capable new-build crane vessel, Les Alizes (Image: Jan de Nul)

The years-old trend that has seen offshore suppliers vie for work in wind by leveraging their offshore oil and gas credentials and development finance is being countered these days by wind players in search of oil and gas jobs, judging by some recent fleet owner moves.

Dutch offshore fleet owner, Jan De Nul, was busy last week promoting its new-order, non-jack-up, heavy-lift crane vessel, Les Alizés, a mighty ship ostensibly aimed specifically at wind park builds but open to oil and gas work — including in remote areas. The offshore construction vessel is “specifically designed for loading, transporting, lifting and installing offshore wind turbine foundations”, but its 5,000-ton crane; 61,000 t deck-load limit and 9,300 square meters of deck space make it well-suited for oil and gas work in frontier areas.

“With these characteristics, Les Alizés can easily transport the heavier future (turbine) foundations, several in one trip, to the offshore installation site,” the company said last week. Les Alizés — a floating installation vessel — does not have four legs to lift itself up out of the water, jack-up style, so it can work deepwater free, too, of seabed considerations.

“Les Alizés will mainly be used for the construction of offshore wind farms, but with her impressive crane she is also extremely suitable for decommissioning offshore oil and gas platforms,” the company asserts. Her jack-up “sister ship”, Voltaire — ordered this year — is also available for both wind and petro-work, as it, too, wields a massive crane and is being marketed for offshore heavy lifts and decommissioning.

So, just it was for deepwater oil and gas innovations now helping wind, “green-only” lending is available for new wind workhorses able to ply offshore oil and gas. “The fact that both new vessels will mainly work for the renewable energy sector, and are both equipped with an advanced exhaust gas treatment system, ensures that these investments were eligible for a green loan,” a statement from the company says, while Group offshore director, Philippe Hutse, affirmed that, “We have financed this investment by means of a green loan thanks to the (exhaust filter system) on board the vessel.”

Unlike some rig newbuilds these days, the project easily got a consortium of five banks aboard the heavy lift vessel new-build: KBC Bank, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING Luxembourg, Rabobank and Belfius Bank. For KBC, “it is the first syndicated green loan within the shipping sector.”

It’s all reminiscent of Norwegian rig-builders and the days (20 years ago) when bottomless Norwegian finance gave suppliers here a lift in the Brazilian deepwater market. Now, green loans may help green vessels into new markets.

Though legless, the Les Alizes might have a leg up in the burgeoning Asian offshore wind segment, and perhaps its offshore oil and gas segment, too. The supersized vessel will deliver in 2022 from CMHI Haimen shipyard in Nantong City, China.

“We highlight China and the United Kingdom as global wind- power outperformers, with (China) set to register by far the fastest capacity expansion globally,” an article by Fitch Solutions stated in November. Mexico, however, is Fitch’s “wind power market to watch” over 2020 for its highly competitive auctions.

So, add Mexican wind to the list of cross-over markets for offshore fleet owners.

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