Windfarm contract secures 300 jobs at Lowestoft firm SLP

Sembmarine SLP Managing Director Paul Thomson has welcomed the Lowestoft Conference initiative. Pict

Sembmarine SLP Managing Director Paul Thomson has welcomed the Lowestoft Conference initiative. Picture: SUPPLIED - Credit: Archant

The award of a major offshore windfarm contract has secured nearly two years employment for up to 300 staff at Lowestoft-based Sembmarine SLP Limited (SLP).

Work will begin in February at the firm's Hamilton Road yard on a 21 month project to construct the offshore substation platform for the Dudgeon wind farm to be built off the north Norfolk coast.

News of the work has come as a pre-Christmas lift for staff who have seen the workforce at SLP drop from 350 to about 150 since the firm's last major contract to build a 140-man offshore accommodation module for oil company Nexen was completed in May.

Managing-director Paul Thomson said: 'This is a big boost for our local industry. Everyone is talking about the economic potential of offshore wind in the future, but this is providing jobs now - we will be doubling our workforce from 150 to about 300 over the next two years.'

Lowestoft MP Peter Aldous described it as 'great news that SLP have won this contract'.

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He said: 'They are well placed to carry out this work having previously constructed the sub-station for the Thanet offshore windfarm. Work in the offshore wind sector makes full use of the skills and expertise that they have built up in the oil and gas sector over many years.'

The positive news comes days after an economic blow for the town when it was announced that the 140-turbine Galloper offshore windfarm, which had been set to use Lowestoft port as its operational base, would be at least delayed.

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Energy giant RWE revealed it would not be continuing with the project - an extension of the Greater Gabbard - in its present form due to difficulties arising from the government's Renewable Obligation subsidy scheme, which dictated a 2017 completion date.

However, industry insiders described Galloper as a 'good project' due to relatively shallow water and favourable seabed conditions and believe it will be revived under a new government subsidy scheme.

Mr Thomson said SLP was now in a good position following two years of stability since the company's acquisition by Singapore energy giant Sembcorp Marine.

He said: 'What we are striving for is continuity of work in both renewables and offshore gas and we have a number of live tenders in, including a bid to build a similar offshore sub-station.'

He said the Dudgeon project would 'open the shop window' for other work.

The new contract has been granted by Siemens, which was awarded the contract for the electrical system infrastructure by the wind farm's developer Dudgeon Offshore Wind Limited, a joint venture between Norwegian Energy firms Statoil and Statkraft and Abu Dhabi based renewable energy company, Masdar.

SLP will work closely with Siemens and will be responsible for the design, engineering, procurement, project management and construction of the platform's 1,000 tonnes jacket substructure and 1,500-tonne topside.

Siemens will provide the transformers and high voltage electrical distribution technology.

Mr Thomson said they were delighted to renew Sembmarine SLP's close working relationship with Siemens, the companies having combined forces on the Thanet windfarm in 2010.

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