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Equinor charters low emissions crew transfer vessel for Norfolk offshore wind operations

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Seacat Columbia crew transfer vessel
The Seacat Columbia crew transfer vessel is a UK-designed, built, flagged, owned and operated CTV
Credit: Diverse Marine

Seacat Columbia, one of the UK’s first low emissions vessels, has commenced its service of Equinor’s Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon offshore wind farms.

Today, Equinor confirms it has chartered Seacat Columbia (built in 2022), a new BARTech 30 crew transfer vessel (CTV), from Seacat Services, for operations at its operated offshore wind farms in Norfolk.

Seacat Columbia is a UK-designed, built, flagged, owned and operated CTV, and the contract with Equinor has sustained 12 UK jobs. The charter will cover service at the 317 MW Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm and the 402 MW Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm, both operated by Equinor on behalf of its partners from its operations and maintenance hub in Great Yarmouth.

Seacat Columbia was designed by marine engineering consultancy BAR Technologies, and built at Diverse Marine Shipyard on the Isle of Wight, further stimulating the UK’s offshore wind supply chain. Close collaboration between developers and the UK supply chain continues to be fundamental to driving low-carbon innovation in all offshore wind project phases.

Seacat Columbia crew transfer vessel spinning
Seacat Columbia is one of the UK's first low emissions vessels
Credit: Diverse Marine

Equinor selected Seacat Columbia following a competitive tender due to its capability to reduce fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions, whilst increasing access to offshore wind farms in harsher sea states. With its highly optimised multi-hull 30m ProA design, and its patented Foil Optimised Stability System (FOSS), the CTV can achieve greater fuel efficiency that can cut carbon dioxide emissions by up to 1200 tonnes per annum when working on the 24-hour charter of operation. By minimising vessel motion, the CTV can see an average increase in stability across all sea states of up to 70% over a typical operational profile.

Kamala Hajiyeva, VP Asset Management, North Sea Renewables at Equinor, said of the announcement:

“We are pleased to have Seacat Columbia commencing operations at the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon offshore wind Farms, given the benefits it will provide to service technicians servicing the wind farms as well as supporting our ongoing emissions reduction efforts. We’re delighted to have one of the UK’s first low emissions CTVs in the Equinor service fleet, with possibilities for future benefits. With the equivalent of around 710,000 UK homes powered by the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms, Seacat Columbia will provide highly valuable support to our service teams ensuring the wind farms are continuing to provide renewable energy to the grid.”

Ian Baylis, Founder of Seacat Services, commented:

“Seacat Columbia is a milestone achievement in our multi-million investment campaign into the development of energy efficient hull forms for the offshore wind support sector, which combines the highest possible standard of operational capability and environmental performance. We make no compromises in our support for the offshore wind sector and its supply chain, and are pleased to offer this standard of service to Equinor enhanced by a revolutionary vessel design – a market-first charter which will jump-start wider deployment of the vessel.”

About Equinor in Norfolk

Equinor is a long-term partner for Norfolk and has been an active member of the community for over a decade through the Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms it operates off the Norfolk coast.

The Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm is owned by Equinor, Masdar and China Resources, whilst Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm is owned by Equinor, Equitix Offshore 5 (co-owned by Equitix and the Renewable Investment Group TRIG) and a fund managed by Macquarie Asset Management).

On behalf of its partners, Equinor is also maturing the proposed Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon extension projects (SEP and DEP). SEP and DEP will double the capacity of the existing Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms, providing renewable energy to power an additional 785,000 UK homes and making an important contribution to the UK’s decarbonisation goals

Currently, the combined output of Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms is sufficient to power around 710,000 UK homes, and the proposed extensions will increase that to nearly 1.5 million UK households.

Both wind farms have established community funds which in total have awarded over £1 million to projects in Norfolk. The funds were set up to provide grants to Norfolk community groups, including schools and charities, seeking financial assistance for projects or initiatives that meet key criteria and focus on renewable energy, marine environment and safety, sustainability, or education in these areas.