North Star Group has clinched its fourth vessel contract for the Dogger Bank wind farm, creating 40 new UK jobs and securing its role as sole service vessel operator for the project over the next decade.
The offshore vessel operator has secured a long-term charter worth approximately £90 million to deliver an additional ship for the Dogger Bank C wind farm, supporting offshore wind technicians working in the field.
This will be the fourth service operations vessel (SOV) and associated daughter craft the company has been contracted to build and operate for the 3.6GW Dogger Bank scheme, making North Star the exclusive SOV operator on the project for at least the next decade.
In March, the firm won the initial contract for Dogger Bank A and Dogger Bank B following a competitive tender for the design and delivery of three SOVs in a deal worth an estimated £270m.
Each of the four Dogger Bank SOVs have been contracted on a 10-year agreement, with three additional one-year options.
With a combined value of £360m, North Star said the contracts marked “one of the world’s most successful” offshore renewables SOV charter deals of 2021.
The fourth award will support around 40 new full-time positions in vessel crews and onshore, the group said, in addition to 130 positions announced in support of the first three SOVs. Recruitment is already underway, it added.
North Star employs around 1,400 personnel out of its facilities in Aberdeen, Newcastle and Lowestoft, and currently supports more than 50 offshore installations with its existing fleet.
The company said its new SOVs offer floating-hotel style accommodation for offshore technicians, enabling travel to and from work via a “walk-to-work” gangway, or a smaller daughter craft vessel. They are also configured to handle cargo and logistics and can act as an offshore warehouse.
All four craft are being built at VARD’s Vung Tau shipyard in Vietnam. North Star said work on the first vessel commenced in October and the first SOVs are scheduled to arrive at Port of Tyne in summer 2023, with the Dogger Bank C ship due in 2025.
North Star CEO Matthew Gordon said securing the final contract for the development for the next decade was “an honour”
“We are fully committed to supporting the local supply chain and communities in the UK where possible and are actively recruiting around 170 personnel from across the country to support this complete vessel package,” he added.
In October, the firm’s renewables director Andrew Duncan said that success at Dogger Bank had also opened doors with bidders in the upcoming ScotWind leasing round, potentially poising it for further deals in the coming years.
Dogger Bank’s joint partners Equinor, SSE Renewables and Eni reached financial close on Dogger Bank C, the third phase of the £9bn project, in early December. Phases A and B are already under construction.
Once all three phases are complete in March 2026, the 3.6GW, 190-turbine wind farm will be the largest in the world and produce enough electricity to meet around 5% of the UK’s demand.
SSE is leading on construction across all three phases and Equinor will operate the wind farm thereafter.