North Star Renewables (NSR), of Aberdeen, is today announcing a £96 million funding package to support its vessel-building plans.
The company – part of the North Star Shipping (NSS) group of companies – told The Press and Journal the secured loan from multinational financial services giant Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI) supplemented its own balance sheet, as well as equity commitments from NSS’s 100% shareholder, Basalt Infrastructure Partners.
It will fund the build of three new service operations vessels (SOVs), which will be delivered to the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm under a contract of at least 10 years.
This is the beginning of a third phase for our business.”
Matthew Gordon, CEO, North Star Group
Once completed, Dogger Bank – about 80 miles off the Yorkshire coast – will become the world’s largest offshore wind farm, capable of powering an estimated six million UK homes. It is currently under construction by joint-venture partners Equinor, SSE Renewables, and Eni.
NSR’s contract with Dogger Bank is expected to create 130 long-term jobs in Scotland and the north-east of England during the operations phase of the wind farm.
New SOVS ‘transformational’
Group chief executive Matthew Gordon, said: “This investment from AllianzGI is a first for our industry and attracting project finance from such a well-respected, global investor demonstrates the confidence in our capabilities to deliver and operate our new SOVs which have been a transformational step for the company in terms of our energy transition.
“This is the beginning of a third phase for our business. North Star started out in the fisheries industry 135 years ago before diversifying into the oil and gas sector in the 1970s.
“Our new, unique SOV design has kick-started this very exciting new chapter for the business in renewables and we plan continue building on this momentum.”
Fraser Dobbie, the group’s chief strategy officer, added: “Renewables is a fast-growing market, and with the first trio of our SOVs being built and leased out for a decade, we are in a very strong position to expand our fleet and realise our full potential in this area.
“We have the capabilities to rapidly scale up our teams in Aberdeen, Lowestoft and Newcastle to oversee future SOV and daughter craft newbuilds. And with more than 40 years’ experience of supporting North Sea installations, we have a very talented pool of experienced seafarers to draw upon.”
Marie Madelin who led the execution of the investment for AllianzGI, said: “Our clients are enthusiastic funders of infrastructure investment globally which facilitates decarbonisation.
“In this case, their capital will support North Star’s transition from predominantly servicing the oil and gas industry to servicing renewable energy generation. This investment adds to our growing portfolio of renewable energy and energy transition enabling infrastructure assets.”
The first of North Star’s SOVs are scheduled to arrive at Port of Tyne in Summer 2023.
44-strong offshore support fleet
The North Star group employs around 1,400 people across UK operations in locations including Aberdeen, Newcastle and Lowestoft. Its offshore support fleet boasts 44 vessels and provides continuous infrastructure support services across more than 50 North Sea installations.
NSR’s three Dogger-Bank-bound SOVs are being built by Norwegian company Vard under a £270m deal.
One will be a Vard 4 19 SOV, a 279ft vessel developed specifically to handle planned maintenance on the Dogger Bank A and B wind arrays and especially suited for operations in harsh environments like the North Sea.
All three ships – also including two 256ft Vard 4 12s – are being built at Vard’s Vung Tau shipyard in Vietnam. Various suppliers within the Norwegian maritime cluster are also involved in the project.