Construction phase United Kingdom

A wind farm construction project should be meticulously planned involving, as near as possible, the complete supply chain from the very start if the execution is to be as successful as possible. On top of the large Tier 1 organisations involved, delivery of a project often involves a significant number of small to medium sized companies each with their own team, process and way of working.

This can often, within this multiple company environment, increase the potential for errors and misunderstandings causing costly delays. There are, however, a few organisations that can take care of the major share of these small to medium sized companies’ scopes of work during the construction stage using their own facilities, equipment and people, and therefore reducing the interfaces and accordingly reducing these risks.

James Fisher and Sons plc, with its subsidiary company James Fisher Marine Services (JFMS), is one of the few companies to offer this service and it’s very likely that its ability to carry out an integrated approach played a large part in it being awarded the Offshore Services Contract (OSC) by Galloper Wind Farm Limited (GWFL) in late February 2016. The contract sees JFMS provide a variety of onshore and offshore marine services during the construction phase of this wind farm. Over two thirds of the entire scope value of the contract, the value of which is expected to exceed £25 million over the next two and a half years, will be delivered predominantly in-house with James Fisher Group companies.

Offshore journeys

Speaking to Offshore WIND about the project, Ben Hooker, Group Business Development Manager at James Fisher and Sons plc, emphasised the local content aspect of its programme. Hooker explained that the James Fisher Group is no stranger to East Anglia; it already has several offices and operational bases in the region that operate both, not only locally but also globally to support the generation of around £100 million in revenue each year. GWFL will be basing its construction support operations in the Port of Lowestoft in a building formally occupied by Shell who used it to run its Southern North Sea gas field operations. from the facility. JFMS expect the new contract to generate approximately 100 new jobs with the company in the region, with up to 20 people working in the new JFMS management team, another 30 onshore and offshore based staff, some working with the GWFL Principal Contractor Team and based in Lowestoft.

Offshore there will be around 50 JFMS technicians working in rotational shifts. The offshore journeys will be undertaken by several crew transfer vessels, some on charter to JFMS but also including its own specialist project support vessel, Dart Fisher. The company is currently talking to local CTV operators to provide this essential link between the Port of Lowestoft and the offshore wind farm.

Coordinate supply chain

Reducing contractual variations and day-to-day operational downtime is another key element of the GWFL tactical approach. The wind farm developer, still holds the major element Tier 1 contracts for the turbines, cables, foundations, substations etc., but in place of having a significant number of small to medium sized sub-contractors working within the major element contracts there is only one, the OSC.

This single contract has been awarded to a company that is well placed to co-ordinate the activities of the local supply chain, and understanding that contractual efficiency is even greater if the majority of the supply chain subcontractors are part and parcel of one group, it is easy to see the appeal of the James Fisher group of companies. JFMS has made available to GWFL its Marine, Economic Risk Management Aid (MERMAID) which has been developed in-house by sister company Mojo Maritime, to assess factors such as weather risks and variances to vessel down time caused by natural conditions such as weather, tidal flow and also the inevitable man made delays within the supply chain.

In the middle of 2016 the wind farm developer GWFL, will walk into a properly organised and fully equipped, purpose-built, marine operations control room containing everything needed to manage the construction of an offshore wind farm. JFMS will be supplying, installing and utilising its newly developed and state-of-the-art cloud based marine co-ordination software called Offshore Wind Management System (OWMS), for monitoring the position of every person, the offshore vessels, the project inventory as well as weather, vessel motion, vessel push on forces and vessel fuel usage. The OWMS system will also manage the short term marine planning requirements of the development.

Onshore, JFMS will be helping to provide vessel berthing facilities, fuel bunkering systems, crew check-in, check out and changing rooms with PPE drying facilities in fact pretty much everything required for getting the technicians to and from work offshore. The company will also provide a number of Emergency Response teams that will be ready and equipped in the event of an incident offshore that requires medical or emergency intervention. Offshore the demarcation buoyage, and any standby diving, UXO and ROV teams needed will be ready when required – the list above is not endless, but it is complete and very well defined.

Work, work, work

Construction on the wind farm is scheduled to start this summer and be completed ready for full operation in late Q1 of 2018. The Galloper development is situated along the North Eastern side of the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm, 27 kilometres, at its nearest point, from the Suffolk Coast in water depths up to 36 metres. During the construction work there will be up to 700 jobs created, and later 90 jobs will be providing the O&M operations for the life span of the wind farm. The 56 turbines selected are to be 6MW, generating up to 336MW, built and installed by Siemens in a contract that includes a 15 year maintenance programme. With blades 75 metres long and a maximum tip height of 180.5 metres these are new generation turbines from Siemens.

Other major contracts awarded for the wind farm include the subsea array cables which will be supplied by JDR from their Hartlepool factory and laid by VBMS (UK) Limited. WE is the lead partner in the project which includes the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB), Siemens Financial Services and Macquarie Capital, who joined the project late in Q3 last year becoming 25 per cent joint equity partners in the project. The port of Lowestoft is operated by Associated British Port (ABP).


This article was first published in the second 2016 edition of the Offshore WIND Magazine.

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