May 3 - Damen Shipyards Group has a new branch office in Houston, Texas, operating as Damen North America and representing the Damen Shipyards Newbuild, and Damen Shiprepair & Conversion businesses across North America and Canada.

Arnout Damen, chief commercial officer says that the office has been opened to show support for the oil and gas market in North America.

Jan van Hogerwou, manager USA & Canada for newbuildings says he is looking forward to working closely with ship operators and shipyards to maximise the value of having a local presence with the use of proven designs, high quality craftsmanship and low total cost of ownership.
"We expect a lot from our new License to Build programme in which we offer our ship designs and our construction expertise to any shipyard in the USA. Our standardised shipbuilding approach, known as The Damen Standard, has become one of our fundamental core values. It gives us the ability to offer our customers well-proven, innovative vessels and/or designs for competitive prices."

Meanwhile, in Houston Damen and GustoMSC announced that they are to collaborate on a project to produce a range of self-propelled and non-self-propelled jack-up platforms for the offshore industries - the DG JACK range.

The collaboration will be based on GustoMSC's strong track record in the design of jack-ups and provision of jacking systems, combined with Damen's extensive experience in shipbuilding and vessel optimisation, financing and worldwide aftersales services.

GustoMSC managing director Nils van Nood said of the collaboration: "These jack-ups form an expansion of the Damen portfolio targeting the offshore markets in oil & gas, renewables like offshore wind, and civil construction.

Arnout Damen explained: "The DG JACK will provide a bridge between the offshore energy sectors and offer the versatility to carry out multiple and varied tasks, safely, efficiently and at competitive rates, in line with market expectations"

Damen head of business development Peter Robert added: "In the oil & gas markets, the demand for self-elevating service vessels such as the DG JACK range is driven largely by operation and maintenance (O&M) requirements. Age significantly increases the amount of topside repair, maintenance and refurbishment  the operator must undertake for the platform to remain serviceable and compliant.

"At the same time, shallow water offshore fields remain a major source of production. With enhanced  technology and recovery, combined with the relatively low cost of production compared to deep and ultra-deep water locations, such sites will ensure a continuing demand for the DG JACK range, particularly at this time of low oil prices."

Commenting on current trends in offshore wind energy, Roberts added: "Wind turbine capacity has grown 41.1 percent from 2010 to 2015. In 2015, the average capacity of new wind turbines installed was 4.2 MW, a significant increase from 3.0 MW in 2010, reflecting a period of continuous development in turbine technology to increase energy yields at sea. The deployment of 4-6 MW turbines seen in 2015 will be followed by the gradual introduction of 6-8 MW turbines closer towards 2018."

Operational experience to date has shown that jack-up vessel intervention has been required at operational wind farms to correct failures in relation to main components, both for isolated defects and to introduce design improvements. Most of the interventions have been in relation to early operational life and there is currently only a limited experience from offshore wind turbines on longer-term wear out rates and the typical length of life for critical main components, including blades, generators, transformers and gearboxes.

Consents granted to forthcoming projects indicate that this trend of scaling up is set to continue in the long term. Also, the fact that wind farms are placed farther offshore and in deeper water, means different capabilities are required than those seen in the current fleet of jack-ups operating in offshore wind. And, with the design life of offshore wind farms being between 20 and 25 years, routine operation and maintenance tasks are assured to ensure performance optimisation.