A newly forged partnership of Aker BP and Aker Offshore Wind (AOW) aims to lay the foundations for an offshore wind industry in Norway through collaboration on development of wind farms.

The pair, both part of the Oslo-listed Aker group of companies backed by billionaire industrialist Kjell Inge Rokke, are teaming up to apply for acreage in the Utsira North and southern North Sea 2 areas to be offered by the government in an inaugural offshore wind licensing round early next year, as exclusively revealed by Upstream.

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEW ENERGY TRANSITION NEWSLETTER

Energy explored: Gain valuable insight into the global oil and gas industry's energy transition from Accelerate, the new weekly newsletter from Upstream and Recharge. Sign up here.

“Together with partners, suppliers and yards, we would like to realise technology-driven, commercial-scale projects and support the development of an offshore wind industry in Norway,” AOW chief executive Astrid Skarheim Onsum said in a statement confirming the tie-up.

Under their co-operation agreement, AOW would develop and operate large offshore wind farms, while oil and gas operator Aker BP would be a potential customer for electricity generated from wind power to drive its offshore platforms as part of a decarbonisation effort.

The latter company would also contribute industrial and technological competence to the partnership.

Aker BP chief executive Karl Johnny Hersvik said: “Electrifying assets using power from offshore wind could be a key enabler to achieve the next step-change in driving down emissions from operations.”

Cutting costs, driving innovation

The Anglo-Norwegian player presently operates the Alvheim, Ivar Aasen, Skarv, Valhall, Hod, Ula and Tambar fields off Norway, and plans to develop together with Equinor the so-called Noaka field cluster project where it is looking to source power from offshore wind.

Onsum said the goal is to “drive down industry cost, introduce innovative technologies and digital solutions” to make offshore wind a new growth sector off Norway, with AOW to focus on innovative floating wind technology in particular.

It comes as domestic oil and gas suppliers have seen their orderbooks shrink on drastic industry cutbacks in the wake of an oil price collapse following global energy demand destruction due to the Covid-19 pandemic, despite a tax relief package that has stimulated fresh field investments.

This has triggered diversification efforts by the likes of local contractors Aker Solutions and Aibel, as well as UK-based Subsea 7 and Italy’s Saipem, into offshore wind as they refocus on the energy transition to generate more work.

Norway’s suppliers could triple their total turnover from offshore wind work by 2027, with a goal of Nkr50 billion ($5.4 billion) by 2030 in an overall market worth Nkr500 billion, according to trade body Norwegian Energy Partners.

It is estimated that up to 50,000 local jobs could be created from offshore wind projects in Norway.

The government has resisted calls to dismantle the country’s key oil and gas industry, arguing that existing supplier competence and technology is vital to building up its renewables sector.