Seajacks excitement grows

THE first two multi-million pound jack-up liftboats built for Seajacks UK will be launched next year - and the Great Yarmouth-based team cannot wait for the big day.

THE first two multi-million pound jack-up liftboats built for Seajacks UK will be launched next year - and the Great Yarmouth-based team cannot wait for the big day.

The first of the $135m harsh environment liftboats is due to hit the water in February, the second in June, the culmination of nearly three years of preparation and planning.

It may have appeared quiet since the project was announced for the four-legged liftboats - the first of their type in the Southern North Sea - but activity behind the scenes has been hectic.

“It has been an exciting journey,” said Seajacks UK managing director Blair Ainslie. “And the most exciting part is yet to come.

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“We are continuing to build our management team at our headquarters in the Beacon Centre and now have 10 staff. But over the next 12 months we will be looking to recruit 60-70 offshore crew for the first two vessels. Our expansion plans involve the construction of additional vessels and there will obviously be more job opportunities arising as a result of our progression.”

The company does have an option on up to five more liftboats if demand is high and Mr Ainslie said response had been extremely promising.

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Much of the vessels' work is expected to be with inspection, repair and maintenance projects for ageing wells and platforms - almost a quarter of the 400 or so in the Southern North Sea are said to be more than 25 years old.

“We've been actively marketing our jack-ups in the Southern North Sea and there has been a high level of interest and positive feedback from both oil and gas operators and from major well service contractors.

“Outside of the Southern North Sea, there is potential to deploy our equipment internationally, and we are following up on inquiries in the Middle East, Caspian Sea and Far East where, with relatively minor adaptation, our vessels can be operate successfully.”

Mr Ainslie said that Great Yarmouth was an ideal location for establishment of a corporate office; at the hub of the Southern North Sea oil and gas activity and also the offshore wind energy business.

The jack-ups could have an important role to play in installation and maintenance of offshore wind farms which were burgeoning as Government and European targets put pressure on the renewables industry to step up production.

“We chose to run our business from Yarmouth and we believe that was a good decision. We have no trouble attracting people here from outside the area. In fact, we have just taken on a crewing manager from Aberdeen.”

Parent company Seajacks International is listed on the Oslo Axess stock market and the first two liftboats are financed by a $116m private equity placement and bank loans of $180m.

“As a publicly listed company, shares in Seajacks International are open to all. Anyone with an interest can purchase a piece of the company,” said Mr Ainslie.

The two initial liftboats, being built at the Lamprell Energy's yard in Dubai, will be named Seajacks Kraken and Seajacks Leviathan. The names come from mythical sea creatures - but the Seajacks story is now a very real one.

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