Energy giant BP (LON: BP) is “absolutely following through” on its pledge to put Aberdeen at the heart of its offshore wind activities.
Richard Haydock, the London-listed supermajor’s project director for offshore wind, says the recruitment process for a hub in the north-east is well underway.
The ball is also rolling on the company’s giant Morven development following its success in Scotland’s landmark offshore leasing round.
BP previously claimed that success in ScotWind would be worth as much as £40 million annually to the local Aberdeen economy, and create up to 120 jobs.
Mr Haydock said: “We said in our ScotWind statement that we would have our centre of excellence for offshore wind operations and maintenance in Aberdeen – we’re absolutely following through on that.
“We’re actively recruiting staff. Some of them have come across from our existing oil and gas business, while other we have recruited externally.
“It’s about having a balance; bringing in some of the really good capabilities within BP, but also getting some specialist experience that have already worked in offshore wind.”
BP on the recruitment drive
Along this vein, BP plans to triple its number of offshore wind workers globally in the coming years, according to recent reports.
Deploying turbines at scale is a key pillar of the company’s quest to become an integrated energy company and decarbonise its operations.
In the UK, BP has three fixed-bottom developments on the go; Morven, Morgan and Mona, the latter two of which are in England.
On the floating turbine side of the market, which is poised to boom, the company has yet to make real inroads.
It has made a statement of intent though by kicking off a search for a new head of floating offshore wind to lead its foray into the space.
Morven surveys underway
In Scotland specifically, BP is using its decade of experience in the North Sea oil and gas industry to shape its futre activities.
Crown Estate Scotland confirmed in January that the company, alongside partner EnBW, was one of 17 ScotWind winners.
Morven, a 2.9 gigawatt (GW) fixed-bottom offshore wind farm, is expected to be able to produce green energy for three million homes, once operational.
Work on the project, earmarked for about 37 miles off the Aberdeen coast, is well underway, and various site surveys have been carried out in recent months.
Desire to transition
As Morven moves forward, the number of people working on the project will grow, and Mr Haydock says there is a real drive amongst current BP oil and gas workers to move into the offshore wind space.
He said: “There is a lot of appetite from existing staff members to come across to renewables. I moved across into offshore wind from oil and gas myself around 18 months ago.
“About half the team currently is made up of BP staff that have joined from our conventional business.”
Spending pledges materialising
On top of its vow to Aberdeen, BP also promised a £10 billion spending spree if it was successful in ScotWind.
The lion’s share of that is expected to come with the manufacturing and construction of Morven, expected towards the end of the decade.
Some cash has already been dished out, with BP signing a marshalling deal for Morven with Port of Leith in Edinburgh.
Forth Ports, owner of Port of Leith, is investing £50m in a facility for wind berth and land bank laydown, touted to create up to 1,000 high-quality long-term direct jobs.
Mr Haydock said: “We have made a commitment to Forth Ports to support their redevelopment – that occurred about six weeks ago.
“I can’t give an exact figure because it’s contained within the commercial agreement, but it’s a significant contribution and that money will go out this year.”
BP has also signed a five-year, multi-million pound deal with deal with Aberdeen-based energy consultancy, Xodus, to provide a skills “capability accelerator”.
He added: “As far as the major expenditure is concerned, that is clearly going to be linked to the timeline for the project, and when we hit the manufacturing phase and the construction phase.”