Lowestoft: New offshore wind project secures 300 jobs at Sembmarine SLP

SLP's last major project, a 2,000 tonnes six storey living accomodation module, leaving Lowestoft i

SLP's last major project, a 2,000 tonnes six storey living accomodation module, leaving Lowestoft in May this year. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A major offshore windfarm contract has secured nearly two years’ employment for up to 300 staff at Lowestoft-based Sembmarine SLP.

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

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

SLP will build the platform’s 1,000-tonne jacket and 1,500-tonne topside, with the work representing a major boost for the yard which has seen its workforce fall from 350 to around 150 since its 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.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous hailed the contract for SLP as “great news”, adding: “They are well placed to carry out this work having previously constructed the sub-station for the Thanet offshore windfarm. Offshore wind work makes full use of the skills that they have built up in the oil and gas sector over many years.”

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.

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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.” The Dudgeon project would “open the shop window”, he added.

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

Energy giant RWE revealed it would not be continuing with the project in its present form due to issues arising from the Government’s Renewable Obligation subsidy scheme, which dictated a 2017 completion date.

However, industry insiders have 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.