Vessel 'oil leak' halts offshore work at Saint Brieuc – updated

Iberdrola has stopped drilling work at the site off Brittany, France, after hydraulic fluid leaked from a jack-up vessel

Van Oord's Aeolus jack-up vessel recently started a second series of drilling operations at Saint Brieuc
Van Oord's Aeolus jack-up vessel recently started a second series of drilling operations at Saint Brieuc

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Iberdrola has paused some construction activities at the 496MW Saint Brieuc Saint Brieuc (496MW) Offshoreoff Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, France, Europe Click to see full details wind farm after a jack-up vessel drilling and installing foundation piles at the site spilled hydraulic fluid into the sea.

The developer has temporarily halted drilling activities at the 65-turbine wind farm off the coast of Brittany, north-western France, though some activities are continuing at the site. Along with contractor Van Oord, Iberdrola is analysing and improving drilling tools to ensure an optimal resumption of drilling work, it stated.

During the second series of drilling operations, a technical problem caused 170 litres of Panolin HLP Synth hydraulic fluid – a biodegradable fluid used for underwater applications – to leak from Van Oord’s Aeolus vessel.

Iberdrola immediately stopped work at the site when it discovered the leak – at 6.30am on 14 June – to allow maritime authorities to carry out a technical inspection of the drilling jig. Investigation of any potential contamination was still ongoing as of 5.30pm local time on 17 June.

It plans to return the Aeolus jack-up vessel to port to carry out a full technical check of the vessel and equipment once this at-sea inspection is completed.

Construction at the site began in May to avoid interfering with the local scallop fishing season, which finished at the end of April.

Iberdrola expects Saint Brieuc to be online in 2023.

Since it was first successful at auction in 2012, the project has faced opposition from the fishing industry, environmental groups and local politicians, who have claimed it would damage the ecosystem and lead to job losses.

But France’s highest administrative court rejected an appeal against Saint Brieuc last December, paving the way for construction to start.

The project will consist of 65 of Siemens Gamesa’s SG 8.0-167 DD turbines, and is due to be one of France’s first large-scale operational offshore wind farms.

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