Prysmian's Leonardo da Vinci cable laying vessel; Source: Prysmian

Dive into: Multi-million and billion-dollar deals, interconnectors, innovations, acquisitions, and vessel jobs

The maritime and offshore energy industries share a decarbonization drive and seek to develop long-term net zero solutions to combat climate woes. The players within these industries from the developers to the supply chain are at the forefront of innovations directed at lowering the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. The subsea sector is a vital cog in the steps being taken to pave the way for a green energy future. So, come away with us on a journey of the subsea market’s latest developments, which show its connection to other markets!

Prysmian's Leonardo da Vinci cable laying vessel; Source: Prysmian

The growing relationship between different energy sectors was hammered home once again during the Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference 2023 (OEEC 2023), where industry behemoths and emerging start-ups gathered for two days last week to showcase pioneering inventions, share knowledge, and discuss ways to tackle the pressing global concerns in the energy and shipping ecosystems while networking and engaging in new collaboration efforts.

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The offshore energy industry is constantly evolving to bring new solutions to the fore and come to grips with the energy trilemma of security, affordability, and sustainability. However, setbacks, bottlenecks, and issues still pop up on the industry’s transformation radar, thus, these need to be addressed with care and speed to ensure the road to a net zero world will be a much smoother terrain to navigate during the energy transition voyage to a green, carbon-free future.

OEEC 2023 provided a front-row seat into the offshore and maritime world’s efforts to secure that future at a time when these industries and sectors are forging ties that bind and coming closer together to achieve climate goals. Read more

Guyana, Brazil, and UK in the spotlight

While last week brought many new developments, deals related to three countries stole the show. The announcement covering two of these came from Saipem, which disclosed two new offshore contracts worth approximately $1.9 billion for work in the Americas. The first assignment is with ExxonMobil’s subsidiary ExxonMobil Guyana Limited for the U.S. oil major’s sixth project – Whiptail oilfield development – in the Stabroek block offshore Guyana.

The second contract win is with Equinor for a pre-salt gas and condensate – Raia – field development in Brazil’s Campos Basin. Thanks to these awards, three of Saipem’s subsea vessels – FDS2, Constellation, and Castorone – have jobs offshore Guyana, and one pipelaying vessel – Castorone – will go to work in Brazil.

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The multi-million dollar deal for the remaining third country on this list came from Italy’s Prysmian Group, which got its hands on a €850 million contract award for a high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable connection in the UK, known as the Eastern Green Link 1 (EGL1) network development project between Scotland and England.

This follows the selection as the preferred bidder for the EGL1 cable link and the commitment to assure the required capacity, which came shortly after the Italian giant was selected for the Eastern Green Link 2 (EGL2) project. Both of these cable connection projects show how the subsea market is lending a helping hand in propelling renewable power generation forward to bring countries closer to their net-zero targets.

Hakan Ozmen, EVP Projects at Prysmian Group, remarked: “We value immensely the trust that SP Energy Networks and National Grid have placed in Prysmian to deliver this first of a technological kind project in the UK. This milestone contract is a validation of our leadership in the field of HVDC systems and the level of our commitment to providing the support our customers seek as they develop and strengthen the cable network connections required for the energy transition.”

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Strengthening clean energy bonds with subsea interconnectors

The push for more green electricity is strongly felt throughout Europe, where countries are pursuing closer green energy ties not just with their neighbors but also with other countries around the globe to reach their climate targets. With this in mind, France’s TotalEnergies added a new project to its international portfolio by acquiring a minority stake in Xlinks, which is setting the stage to develop the Morocco-UK power project – a giant renewable energy project in Morocco, powered by solar and wind energy.

This project will supply over 7 million British homes with green electricity through the installation of 3,800 km high-voltage direct current (HDVC) subsea cables, along with a large battery energy storage, enabling the generated power to be transmitted directly to the UK without connection to the Moroccan, Spanish, Portuguese, or French transmission networks.

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One of the latest steps taken by the European Union to bring a green energy future to life is the signing of the grant agreement for the first direct current interconnection between Europe and Africa. This initiated the €307 million financing from the European Commission for the subsea power line between Italy and Tunisia. The Italian transmission power grid operator, Terna SpA, and Société Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz (STEG), Tunisia’s electricity and gas company will be in charge of the Italy-Tunisia electricity interconnection, called Elmed.

Kadri Simson, EU Commissioner for Energy, commented: “The Elmed electricity cable link that will connect Italy and Tunisia is exceptional in many ways. It is the first project under the Connecting Europe Facility to receive funding for works on electricity infrastructure project developed by a member state and a third country.”

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The EU countries are increasingly embarking on grid upgrades and the build-out of more hydrogen, green electricity, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). Some of these countries have already become renewable energy trailblazers and the European Commission’s recent list of 166 proposed cross-border energy infrastructure projects is bound to entrench their position as movers and shakers on the decarbonization scene. This list comes with 14 CCUS projects, stretching geographically from the Baltic Sea over the North Sea to the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

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For the European Commission, the electricity transmission and distribution grids are “the missing links of the clean energy transition.” Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Latvia, and Estonia are among the countries set to reap the benefits of the EU’s mission to build up its green electricity potential, as three hybrid interconnector projects have been designated as projects of common interest, giving them the status of particularly important infrastructure projects of interest to the entire Europe and allowing them to seek financial support from the EU.

These offshore hybrid interconnectors in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, which are expected to future-proof the EU’s energy sector with renewables, are:

  • TritonLink – expected to link the high-voltage grids in Belgium and Denmark through two energy islands in the North Sea;
  • Bornholm Energy Island (BEI) project between Denmark and Germany – located in the Baltic Sea and expected to facilitate the connection of at least 3 GW of offshore wind generation capacity to the grid by the early 2030s;
  • Elwind joint Estonian-Latvian state-run cross-border offshore wind project, which aims to raise energy independence in the region by upping the green energy production ante and fortifying interstate electricity connectivity.

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Other offshore wind projects also found their spot on the European Commission’s list of projects of common interest needed to address a bottleneck across country borders and provide synergies if implemented together. One of these is the North Sea Wind Power Hub, which aims to harvest the power of the North Sea through a transnational and cross-sector approach to take a step-change required to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The European Commission is interested in helping to unlock the full potential of the North Sea with these future energy highways, which envision a coordinated roll-out with multiple energy connections between North Sea countries. Due to this, one or more hubs in the North Sea with interconnectors to bordering North Sea countries – Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany – will get the chance to be bankrolled by the EU.

Innovations steer energy transformation boat through challenging net zero waters

One of the innovative solutions that brightened the week came from Huisman, which unveiled a cable-lay system, designed for the efficient installation of inter-array cables. This system, which ensures fast mobilization and demobilization, was spurred by the growing market need for diverse deployment scenarios of multi-purpose vessels (MPVs). The Dutch player’s motion-compensated cable-lay system has been integrated into Damen‘s vessel, bringing to life the world’s first motion-compensated cable-laying vessel (CLV).

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On the first day of the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC 2023) – where companies gathered for two full days of discussions, insights, and updates on the ins and outs of the energy and maritime industries last week – a new contract between N-Sea Group and Osbit, was announced for the delivery of a suite of equipment to enable the repair and lay of offshore cables.

This equipment encompasses a novel dual concentric carousel, a tower with loading arms, and an ergonomic power and control cabin. The carousel will be “the world’s first DNV-approved” dual concentric modular system for cable repair, according to Osbit.

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After Strohm received DNV qualification for its deepwater TCP flowline, the Dutch firm highlighted its innovation zest as the first player to receive this kind of accreditation from the verification body.

Ramon Rojas, Program Manager for Strohm, commented: “This is a landmark for Strohm and yet further evidence of the benefits of our game-changing solution. Our TCP is already in use around the world with an established and growing track record; this third-party accreditation is a further guarantee to operators that our product performs as predicted. Going forward it will help to further build industry confidence in TCP as a reliable and effective tool for offshore energy operations.”

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Acquisitions boost subsea players’ offering

Many companies are turning to acquisitions to expand their portfolios and open new doors on the international stage. Ashtead Technology is one of the subsea firms, which decided to enlarge its global offering by acquiring ACE Winches. According to Allan Pirie, Ashtead Technology’s CEO, ACE Winches mainly serves the oil and gas industry, but there is “a significant opportunity” for redeployment in offshore renewable markets and further internationalization of Ashtead.

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Another subsea player which is pursuing further acquisitions is Fugro. The Dutch giant set the wheels in motion to get a hold of the remaining shares in SEA-KIT International to strengthen its leadership in marine robotics solutions. This acquisition is the culmination of the duo’s long-standing relationship in the areas related to the development of hi-tech uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) for low-carbon emission maritime operations and research.

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New fleet additions and vessel jobs

Several ship owners have enriched their fleets with new vessels, including Unique Group, which augmented its unmanned surface vessel (USV) portfolio with the launch of two new models, developed entirely in-house and designed for surveying operations across challenging environments. One of these new USVs incorporates a hybrid power system, integrating a generator with a diesel tank and solar PV cells. This extends operational capabilities, enabling prolonged missions in remote or demanding terrains.

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The UAE-based CCC (Underwater Engineering) also welcomed a new addition to its fleet, which is a 149.5-meter multi-purpose Ice Class diving support and subsea construction vessel made for worldwide subsea operations, including activities in coastal waters.

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Meanwhile, Solstad Offshore picked up work for two vessels, an anchor handling tug supply (AHTS) and a construction support vessel (CSV), in Australia. See more

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