Germany: Sietas Shipyard Future Still Unknown
In June 2012 the creditors’ committee voted in favour of an offer by the VeKa Group of the Netherlands to take over the Sietas shipyard. Despite six months of intensive negotiations, it was not possible to complete the deal. The reason is that the Sietas shipyard currently has only one order for a new construction, an jack-up vessel for offshore wind farms for the Dutch marine engineering company Van Oord.
The prospect of a second new construction order of an identical type and the resulting continuing employment of the shipyard was stipulated by VeKa as a condition for the takeover.
However, two weeks ago Van Oord was forced to halt the decision-making process for the construction of a second jack-up vessel at the Sietas shipyard. This was occasioned by the delayed investment decision for the EnBW Hohe See offshore wind farm. As a result of the still on-going political discussion concerning the amendment to Germany’s Energy Industry Act (EnWG) and the associated uncertainties regarding binding dates for the grid connection of offshore wind farms, EnBW has postponed its investment decision for the planned North Sea wind farm. Van Oord’s firm intention had been to order a second jack-up vessel from Sietas and to use it in the construction of the wind farm. Instead Van Oord has now disbanded its entire Hohe See project team.
Insolvency administrator Berthold Brinkmann commented, “Sietas shipyard, its 400 employees and 26 trainees are now in a very difficult situation. On the one hand, we know from Van Oord that the shipyard’s work is very highly regarded and that the construction of the first jack-up vessel for offshore wind farms built in a German shipyard is proceeding successfully. On the other, the shipyard needs more shipbuilding orders to be attractive to potential buyers. These are not just a condition for the takeover by VeKa, but also for other significant interested parties.”
Besides acquiring orders – which is being worked on intensively – Sietas shipyard must do everything it can to still realise the follow-on order by Van Oord despite the current setback. This would require the German government to tackle and solve practical problems faster as they arise in the implementation of the energy policy transition. Sietas, however, does not have much time: at the end of February 2013 the administrator must decide on the shipyard’s future. An additional shipbuilding order would have to be placed by this date.
Berthold Brinkmann: “The Sietas shipyard is a practical example of just how complicated planning for the energy transition is. We are in the process of building the first offshore wind power jack-up vessel in Germany and simultaneously we have had the carpet pulled out from under our feet by simple time limit regulations in connection with the timetable for the energy transition. Nevertheless, we will attempt to preserve the Sietas shipyard as a gem in Hamburg’s maritime industry. We appeal to the political decision-makers to adapt the statutory regulations to ensure that the energy transition rapidly succeeds. If this were to happen, the Sietas shipyard could contribute its expertise as a specialised German shipyard in the long term and several hundred shipbuilding jobs would remain in Hamburg.”
After attending today’s works meeting at the Sietas shipyard, Hamburg’s Senator for Economy Frank Horch said: “After being able to save a lot of the jobs in former subsidiaries Neuenfelder Maschinenfabrik (NMF) and the Norderwerft shipyard, I’m still hopeful that Hamburg will be able to keep the long-established Sietas shipyard. Hamburg is attempting to bring about amendments to the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) to help previously planned wind farms to continue to benefit from its provisions despite time delays. This should accelerate the development of the required offshore capacities and would at the same time help to preserve know-how in the subcontracting companies, such as the shipyards, in north Germany.“
Press Release, December 12, 2012