March 17 - MHI Vestas Offshore Wind has signed an agreement with the Port of Esbjerg, more than doubling the area of land it leases at the Danish port for the pre-assembly and shipment of offshore wind turbine components.

The total space of the site will expand from 54,200 sq m to 138,200 sq m and will include an extra quay space for the execution of multiple projects simultaneously, said the port.

"This agreement marks the further development of our successful cooperation with MHI Vestas since 2001, which has played an important part in making Port of Esbjerg the leading port for wind power in Europe," claimed Esbjerg port director Ole Ingrisch.

Bo J. Bjerregaard, director, pre-assembly and projects at MHI Vestas, added: "Pre-assembly is a critical aspect of our business and therefore it is essential to have a dedicated site onshore, with the necessary infrastructure where we can prepare our components for offshore installation. This will ensure we can minimise time spent offshore, and thereby reduce installation costs."

The Port of Esbjerg recorded a net profit of EUR10.31 million (USD11.6 million) in 2015, slightly below the higher profits of previous years.

Flemming N. Enevoldsen, chairman of the board at the port, said that it views the recent results as a sign that the port's strategy is working even though market conditions have changed. "It confirms that the Port of Esbjerg is a robust business and that the port's focus on three business areas - wind, oil and gas and ro-ro - is the right one."

The Danish port handled 1.6 million tonnes of ro-ro cargo in 2015, which represented a small rise compared with the previous year. Overall, the Port of Esbjerg recorded a throughput of 4.2 million tonnes in 2015, down from 4.5 million tonnes in 2014.

The port expects its results for 2016 to be at the same level of 2015, although it admitted that the low oil price will make business difficult for the gateway and companies located at the port.

"We are of course very aware of the difficult market, which businesses in the oil and gas industry are operating in at the moment. This adds to the insecurity for many of our customers, which we also feel at the port," said Ingrisch.