BLRT Grupp: Nordic Baltic Shipyards show green power

Western Shipyard, Klaipeda, Lithuania

The Nordic Baltic group of shipyards, part of the BLRT Grupp, cannot be accused of acting as an old age pensioner, despite its 100 year history. The group follows the various developments in the wind energy market with interest and is ideally placed in Denmark, Germany, Norway and the UK, where it is all happening. 

“Customers come to us because they prefer customised products,” BLRT Grupp Head of Offshore Business Development, Kristina Arutjunova says knowingly.

The history of the BLRT Grupp dates back to 1912 as the shipbuilding company Russo-Baltic Shipyard in Tallinn, Estonia, was set up. Since then it has gone through many challenging times and reorganisations to get to be the company it is now: one of the largest companies in the Baltics with well over 4,000 employees working for the group’s companies and affiliated companies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Norway, Poland, Russia and Ukraine.

Tripile foundations for BARDBLRT Grupp entered the offshore wind market in 2007. Although this market is a rather new element in the long history of the many faceted group, it has firmly established itself as a builder of wind farm support vessels, jack-up barges, self elevating platforms, catamarans, monopile grout skirts, box girder sections for tripiles, and other equipment.

Some of the over 70 subsidiaries active in shipbuilding, ship repairs and manufacturing of large metal constructions have a specific focus on the wind energy market. These are Western Baltija Schipbuilding, specialising in jack-ups and transformer platforms, and BLRT Marketex, specialising in the construction of aluminium service vessels and heavy steel components for foundations.

BLRT Grupp supplies to customers based in Northern Europe. “We want to serve any country in he world, but for logistic reasons we focus on specific geographical locations”, Kristina Arutjunova told Offshore WIND, adding that there are however teams within the company that are UK-based offering smoother solutions in logistics.

BLRT Marketex

Based in Tallin, Estonia, BLRT Marketex is one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of marine, offshore and industrial products. In the last few years it has already built up a good portfolio of offshore wind projects.

In 2008 the company was given the contract to deliver the upper girder sections and secondary structures for the tripile foundations for the BARD Offshore 1 wind farm by BARD Engineering. Another contract was awarded in 2011 by Danish foundation manufacturer Bladt Industries. The contract included the delivery of 160 sets of Grout Skirts, External Platforms and Flange Access Platforms.

A recent vessel building contract was with Sure Wind Marine. They built four new 19.5 metres long high capacity and flexible Wind farm Support Vessels (WSV) for this North East England based operator. Designed by Incat Crowther of Australia the aluminium service vessels are built to DNV class.

The four vessels, Sure Pride, Sure Progress, Sure Partner and Sure Pilgrim, were delivered between May and December 2012 and are working on London Array (Sure Pride) in the UK, and Riffgat Offshore Wind Farm in Germany (Sure Progress).

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Kristina Arutjunova explains that basic designs can be adjusted to meet the customer’s need. It is done in close cooperation with the client during the design phase, development and the actual building. “Naturally, demands on quality and specific requirements, suitable for individual clients, will be met. We are aware that requirements can vary. German customers may have different requirements from those in the UK for example. It is a continuous ongoing process of awareness and it generates more and more knowledge and experience on our part.”

She observes that the job has to be done in a tough market, but with cooperation from their partner BMT Nigel Gee, with whom they have a professional and reliable relationship, they present a powerful combination to clients.

Western Baltija Shipbuilding

Western Shipyards is another subsidiary of the BLRT Grupp that is involved in the offshore wind industry. Its member Western Baltija Shipbuilding (WBS), based in Klaipeda, Lithuania, is a good example. Its biggest project ever in the lifetime of the company is the installation vessel Windliftl for which over 7,000 tonnes of steel were used. The vessel is propelled by four rudder

propeller units, each having a capacity of l,665kW. The platform is equipped with a 500t crane and has a maximum working depth of 45m. There is a helicopter landing pad and it has a 2000t deck load.

WBS also proudly claims to be the first shipbuilding company in the Baltic Sea region to include, beside the general building of a wide range of vessels and hulls for various types of ships, also the construction of additional equipment for the offshore wind industry.

The company was responsible for the construction of the transformer platform for the Bard Offshore Wind Farm. The transformer platform is equipped with two 200MW Siemens transformers, a helicopter landing pad, two 20t crane. It also includes a living area where up to 40 crew can be accommodated.

Cooperation with universities

Over the years every one involved in the BLRT Grupp has worked in close collaboration with research centres, such as the Estonian Technical University in an attempt to attract talented students to the business organisation once they are graduated. Recently, group member Western Baltija Shipbuilding signed an agreement with Klapeida University for the design and construction of a research vessel (length 38.7 metres, width 12 metres, and depth 4.5 meters). The university ordered the newbuilding to develop part of the research centre into a national centre of maritime sciences and technologies.

The BLRT Grupp respects the long-term traditions within the group and blends them well into their modern business organisation. The company proclaims proudly that it grew from a single business company specialising in ship repairs in the ‘1980s, to the multi-profile business it is today.

Janny Kok