What do Pioneering Spirit, monopiles and the Armada Intrepid have in common? They are all examples of how the port of Rotterdam is working to realise its ambitions in the offshore sector. “Our goal is to become North-western Europe’s leading offshore hub for the decommissioning of oil platforms and the construction of wind farms, among other activities,” says Joost Eenhuizen, the Port Authority’s Business Manager Maritime Industry & Offshore.
By now, most people will be aware that the completion of the offshore vessel Pioneering Spirit is being handled at Rotterdam’s Prinses Alexiahaven. “But loading the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) unit Armada Intrepid onto the heavy cargo vessel Dockwise Vanguard was also a true milestone in our offshore programme,” Eenhuizen hastens to add. On top of that, it was recently announced that Sif Group, Verbrugge International and the Port Authority have entered into an agreement to realise a manufacturing and storage and transhipment terminal in Rotterdam. This new facility, located on a site of some 42 ha, will manufacture steel monopiles (deep foundations) for offshore wind farms and the oil and gas industry.
According to Eenhuizen, the above examples not only illustrate the considerable progress Rotterdam is making in the realisation of its offshore ambitions, but also the active supporting role played by the Port Authority. “In the case of the Pioneering Spirit, we managed to arrange everything within 11 months of receiving Allseas’ request. That’s incredibly quick. And the Dockwise Vanguard made use of our ‘offshore facility’; a dock in the Calandkanaal with a depth of some 24 metres that we have customised for offshore vessels.”
Our offshore cluster has all the know-how and necessary infrastructure to deal with the largest, heaviest and most advanced offshore projects.
— Joost Eenhuizen, Business Manager Maritime and Offshore Industry
And according to Eenhuizen, there’s a lot more in the pipeline besides. Although not every venture is on the same scale as the aforementioned mega-projects. “For example, we have set up a test location on Maasvlakte 2 for Fistuca. Here, the company will be testing its Blue Piling Hammer. This promising innovation uses falling water columns to drive pile foundations for wind farms and oil and gas rigs – with significantly less noise and at a lower cost.”
Largest fleet of floating cranes
Actually, Eenhuizen isn’t that surprised by how much headway Rotterdam has already made. “Our offshore cluster has all the know-how and necessary infrastructure to deal with the largest, heaviest and most advanced offshore projects. Rotterdam is for instance home to Europe’s largest fleet of floating cranes and sheerlegs for heavy lifting in Europe. Shipyards can accommodate all types of offshore platforms; the largest can be served in a mega-dock of 405 by 90 metres. And there are many equipment suppliers, so we have an extensive choice at competitive prices. We have room for further growth with amazing location opportunities across the Maasvlakte.”
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