North Star Renewables has cemented its position as the market leading provider of marine offshore infrastructure support services in the UK after finalising a funding package of £96 million to build its new renewables vessel fleet.
The secured loan from multi-national financial services organisation Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI), supplements North Star’s own balance sheet and equity commitments from its 100% shareholder, Basalt Infrastructure Partners, to fund the build of three new Service Operations Vessels (SOVs), which will be delivered to the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm on long term contracts of 10 years firm plus options. The deal represents AllianzGI’s first investment in the SOV sector.
Once completed, Dogger Bank will become the world’s largest offshore wind farm, capable of powering six million British homes. It is currently under construction by joint-venture partners Equinor, SSE Renewables, and Eni. The contract with Dogger Bank will create 130 long-term jobs in Scotland and the North East of England during the operations phase of the wind farm.
North Star CEO, Matthew Gordon, said: “This investment from AllianzGI is a first for our industry and attracting project finance from such a well-respected, global investor demonstrates the confidence in our capabilities to deliver and operate our new SOVs which have been a transformational step for the company in terms of our energy transition.
“This is the beginning of a third phase for our business. North Star started out in the fisheries industry 135 years ago before diversifying into the oil and gas sector in the 1970s. Our new, unique SOV design has kick started this very exciting new chapter for the business in renewables and we plan continue building on this momentum. We are highly motivated and driven by our ability to innovate through our technology partners, and our ambition to deliver best-in-class vessel solutions for the offshore wind market in the UK and abroad.”
Chief Strategy Officer at North Star, Fraser Dobbie, added: “Renewables is a fast-growing market, and with the first trio of our SOVs being built and leased out for a decade, we are in a very strong position to expand our fleet and realise our full potential in this area. We have the capabilities to rapidly scale up our teams in Aberdeen, Lowestoft and Newcastle to oversee future SOV and daughter craft newbuilds. And with more than 40 years’ experience of supporting North Sea installations, we have a very talented pool of experienced seafarers to draw upon.”
North Star’s SOVs are high performance, sustainable vessels capable of supporting net-zero goals. They provide comfortable, floating-hotel style accommodation to offshore wind turbine technicians and a centralised logistics hub to travel to and from work each day across a “walk-to-work” gangway, or transfer via a smaller daughter craft vessel. The SOV is also configured to handle cargo and act as a warehouse.
North Star Renewables is part of North Star Group, which also comprises North Star Shipping and Boston Putford. As well as providing continuous infrastructure support services across more than 50 UK Continental Shelf installations, the Group also provides vessel maintenance services.
Marie Madelin who led the execution of the investment for AllianzGI commented: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with North Star to invest 100% of the debt funding to finance the construction and operation of this fleet of sustainable state-of-the-art support vessels. The SOVs will be embedded in the Dogger Bank offshore windfarm’s O&M value chain while under long term charters to the project SPVs, thus playing a critical role in the UK’s energy transition. Our clients are enthusiastic funders of infrastructure investment globally which facilitates decarbonisation. In this case, their capital will support North Star’s transition from predominantly servicing the oil and gas industry to servicing renewable energy generation. This investment adds to our growing portfolio of renewable energy and energy transition enabling infrastructure assets.”
The first of North Star’s SOVs are scheduled to arrive at Port of Tyne in Summer 2023.
The transaction was supported by advisers including DC Advisory, Watson Farley Williams and Ashurst.