Major jobs boost for Wallsend as firm lands offshore contract

A Wallsend firm has received a major jobs boost after landing a top contract.

Tuesday, 31st January 2017, 9:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st January 2017, 9:46 am
Smulders Wallsend-based manufacturing facility where the innovative suction buckets will be assembled for the EOWDC off Aberdeen bay.

Smulders Projects has won a contract for assembling parts for a wind farm off the Scottish coastline.

The work making pioneering suction bucket foundations for Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) will safeguard around 35 jobs and create up to another 105 positions.

The company will carry out the work on the 11 foundations at its Wallsend-based manufacturing facility it acquired from fabricator, OGN Group, at the end of last year.

In the longer-term, the total number of around 140 jobs involved in the work could more than double to around 400 posts as a result of the contract.

The ground-breaking 92.4MW EOWDC, off Aberdeen Bay, is believed to be one of the first UK offshore wind projects where suction buckets will be deployed on a large scale.

Adam Ezzamel, project director for the EOWDC at Vattenfall, said: “This latest contract award follows successful trials of the game-changing buckets and as a leading fabrication specialist for the wind sector, we’re pleased that Smulders will be carrying out the assembly work in Wallsend.

“The buckets enable faster offshore installation of the EOWDC, while keeping noise to a minimum, and allow easier decommissioning as the installation process is reversed.

“As such, the technology will contribute to driving down the cost of clean power as offshore wind moves into deeper waters and more complex seabed conditions.”

Smulders’ 300,000m² manufacturing hub, which continues to support OGN’s operations, has facilities for constructing jackets and substations.

The company has also invested in additional lifting capacity including two gantry cranes which can each lift up to 600 tonnes while work is underway to install a large ring crane with a lifting capacity of 3,200 tonnes.

David Muylaert, deputy managing director at Smulders Group, said: “We are convinced that with expanding our production platform with this new facility in Newcastle, we not only added local content in the UK and an additional production capacity within the Smulders group, but also have created an excellent base close to the renewable and offshore market within the UK.

“In particular, for the Aberdeen Bay project, we are going to use this yard for the fabrication of the lower parts of the jacket structures and to do the final assembly of all associated parts. This has been made possible by means of the necessary investments in lifting facilities which we did on our yard.”

North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon, who actively supported OGN’s call to Government to generate more UK content in offshore wind developments, said: “I’m really pleased Smulders has shown confidence in North Tyneside and invested in the former OGN site in Wallsend.

“The fact that they have already won a contract to provide employment is indeed good news. I look forward to working with them in the future, in any way I can, to help secure work in my constituency.”

Smulders was awarded the EOWDC contract by Boskalis.

Taco Terpstra, project director at Boskalis, said: “The final assembly of the complete foundations at the site in Newcastle allows Boskalis a much shorter sailing distance from the load-out location to the site offshore with all benefits for our logistics chain.”