Risk spreading under way

Norwegian oil and gas giant StatoilHydro is looking for a new partner for its planned 315 MW Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm in the North Sea. The project, located off the Norfolk coast, was developed by Scira Offshore Energy, a 50-50 joint venture between StatoilHydro and Evelop, the renewables development subsidiary of Dutch group Econcern. In October, StatoilHydro exercised its option to buy Evelop's shares and became the sole owner of the project.

The company is now understood to be looking for a partner with a stronger industrial focus. From StatoilHydro, Kai Nielsen says the preference is a partnering approach. "We could easily finance the whole project ourselves, but it is a question of risk management; we want to spread the risk," he says.

The group has a team working on the project to keep it to its original timetable. Onshore work is to begin in the first half of 2009, with offshore works starting in 2010 and completion expected in 2011. "We believe we have a very good project and we are confident we will find a partner, says Nielsen.

Evelop, meanwhile, says that selling its share of the project was in line with company strategy. Evelop's Frank Coenen explains that in all its other offshore projects, the company owns 100% or a controlling share in the development. Around 18 months ago, Evelop decided to consolidate its portfolio projects. "The Scira 50-50 [partnership] means we had no control and could not consolidate it; so, therefore, it was less interesting," he says.

Evelop aims to be a major offshore player; 50% of its total wind portfolio comprises offshore projects in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and the firms plans bidding for sites -- both alone and with a majority share with other partners -- in the UK's third round of offshore site concessions. Evelop aims to bring one offshore wind farm a year to financial close, says Coenen.

With utility Eneco, Evelop completed this year the 120 MW Q7 wind park in Dutch waters. In April, it concluded a framework agreement with Dutch marine contractor Van Oord to build four offshore wind farms totalling 1500 MW in north-west Europe. The first will be the 330 MW Belwind project off Belgium, followed by three off Germany -- Godewind, OWP West and Albatros.