Saipem has made offshore wind its priority and aims to become a big player in the UK sector, one of its top brass has said.
Paolo Formica, the Italian oil and gas contractor’s offshore area manager for the North Sea, said the firm is trying to “identify” Scotland-based supply chain companies with which it can work.
He was “not yet” able to confirm Saipem’s involvement in EDF’s £2 billion Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) project off the east coast of Scotland. But he did acknowledge the turbine jackets contract for NnG was a primary target.
The 450 megawatt (MW) development was expected to create around 500 jobs, but it is understood most of the 53 turbine jackets could be built at Saipem’s base in Indonesia.
Mr Formica said: “I know there are a number of rumours involving Saipem and the NnG project, but we do not comment on rumours or on specific projects.
“However, I can confirm that NnG is one of our targets, especially because of the complexity of the project and the magnitude of it.
“It has been our strategy to look for projects where we can provide a technical solution.”
The firm wants to repeat its success on Equinor’s 2017 Hywind Scotland project, for which it lifted and installed the floating turbines using its huge Saipem 7000 crane vessel.
Mr Formica is looking to identify a strong supply chain in the UK, which would “only strengthen” Saipem’s business case in the event of a contract announcement.
It’s understood Scottish firm Burntisland Fabrication (BiFab) has already put pen to paper to supply eight turbine jackets for the NnG project.
He said: “Our model is based on our in-house capabilities, but this does not mean a project would be managed 100% on our own.
“We will look to harness the supply chain, but we need to be clear and understand what that means. There is no doubt that cost is an essential part of the organisation, but it is not the only one.”
Mr Formica believes his firm’s strong position is based on its ability to “manage risk better than other companies” and reduce cost.
With offshore wind a “key market” for Saipem, Mr Formica said the UK North Sea is firmly in his sights and “the most promising” market.
He added: “We have been working on a number of targets, promoting our business model and we’ve seen strong interest from a number of clients about our model and the indications that we are receiving from the market are very encouraging and positive.
“We are one of the few main contractors that can export strong capability in the design of a development. We can exploit competitive fabrication yards and rely on top level vessels, like Saipem 7000.”