First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Stimulates Job Creation

Work Slated for Early 2015

Published Nov 13, 2014 10:35 AM by The Maritime Executive

Deepwater Wind has selected Gulf Island Fabrication, Inc., a worldwide leader in the fabrication of specialized offshore structures, to construct the steel jacket foundations for the Block Island Wind Farm – with fabrication beginning early next year.

Gulf Island Fabrication’s scope will include the fabrication and supply of the wind farm’s five offshore foundations (consisting of steel jackets, decks and piles). Gulf Island has teamed up with EEW, a European supplier of rolled products.

Fabrication work will begin in early 2015 at GIF’s facilities located in Houma, Louisiana, with the structures ready for delivery to the wind farm site, three miles off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, in the summer of 2015. Each of the five foundations will weigh more than 1,500 tons.

As part of the agreement, Gulf Island Fabrication will subcontract work to Specialty Diving Services, based at Quonset Point in North Kingstown, R.I. Trained welders and other local tradesmen and women at SDS will fabricate some of the foundation components at Quonset, with the work spanning several months in early 2015.

“Gulf Island Fabrication brings world-class, industry-leading experience to the job, and we’re thrilled to add them as a partner,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “We are very happy that Gulf Island Fabrication has teamed up with a great Rhode Island company like Specialty Diving Services. This team is a win-win: world-class experience and jobs for Rhode Islanders.”

“We are excited to begin working on the first U.S. offshore wind farm. Rhode Island is leading the way in this new industry and it is great that Rhode Islanders will be building part of this project. This is a great opportunity for SDS and other Rhode Island companies to get involved in a new field,” said Nick Tanionos, CEO of Specialty Diving Services, Inc., of North Kingstown, R.I.

“We are excited to be a part of this project as the industry continues to explore alternative energy solutions to meet the increasing demands for power,” said Kirk Meche, Gulf Island Fabrication President and CEO. “Gulf Island has been associated with many projects that are first of a kind and while these structures are traditional in nature, the project is the first offshore wind project for the U.S. and we are honored to be a part of this. We look to establish a lasting relationship with Deepwater Wind.”

Gulf Island Fabrication is a leading fabricator of offshore drilling and production platforms, hull and/or deck sections of floating production platforms and other specialized structures used in the development and production of offshore oil and gas reserves. It offers the greatest fabrication capacity on the Gulf of Mexico.

This is the first of several local jobs announcements that will see Rhode Islanders playing a major role in the construction, operation and maintenance of the Block Island Wind Farm.

“We remain committed to hiring as many local workers as possible to support this endeavor, and our fabrication agreement is just the start of our commitment to kick-starting a homegrown economic engine centered here in the Ocean State,” Grybowski said.

“It’s not just about jobs for today: The unique partnership of Rhode Islanders working alongside our European and Gulf of Mexico contractors will mean local workers can attain skills and experience they’ll need to support our larger projects in the future,” Grybowski added. “Our goal is not just to build a wind farm – our goal is to build a local industry for years to come.”

“We continue to work together in true partnership with Deepwater Wind and national firms to maximize job opportunities in this emerging industry for Rhode Island tradesmen and woman, and business opportunities for Rhode Island firms that employ them,” said Michael F. Sabitoni, President of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council.

The Block Island Wind Farm remains on track to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

Deepwater Wind previously signed a turbine supply and long-term maintenance agreements with Alstom, which will supply the Block Island Wind Farm with five of Alstom’s 6-megawatt (MW) Haliade 150 offshore wind turbines.

Deepwater Wind selected Fred Olsen Windcarrier to provide its jack-up vessel Bold Tern for the turbine installation.