Italian oil major Eni has become the latest petro-giant to throw its hat into the ring for Scotland’s imminent offshore wind licensing, announcing it would partner with Chinese-owned Red Rock Power on ScotWind via a new joint venture.

The duo said the planned bid by the JV, backed by Transmission Investment – which is currently co-leading development of the 1.4-gigawatt France-UK FAB Interconnector project, would be a first step on a wider ambition to “maximise opportunities to transition oil and gas workforce and for future decarbonisation of North Sea energy operations”.

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“Red Rock Power’s team brings significant experience in this sector and specifically in Scotland. The success of ScotWind will be crucial for developing the local industry in this sector and for positioning new technologies in a growing global market,” said Alessandro Della Zoppa, head of renewables in Eni Gas & Luce.

“Eni is committed to a Just Transition underlining a constant commitment to enhancing people’s value while seizing the opportunities offered by possible developments in the energy market, this is our driver as we continue our transformation journey”.

Red Rock Power chief executive Guy Madgwick said: “Securing a partner to enable us to capitalise on our existing offshore wind development expertise and levelling-up our offshore construction experience ahead of the ScotWind bid was a key priority for us this year.

“Eni brings a wealth of offshore expertise from the oil and gas sector that offers significant value in potential projects moving forward. Our priority right now is formulating a competitive proposition which would allow us to expand while maximising opportunities for Scotland’s wind sector and supply chain.”

Eni, which waded into the offshore wind sector last year when it acquired a 20% stake in the giant 3.6GW Dogger Bank project off the UK, aims to expand its renewables portfolio with an eye on having 60GW installed clean-energy production capacity by 2050.

Red Rock, owned by Beijing-headquartered SDIC, is part owner of the slow-burning 1GW Inch Cape project and operational 588MW Beatrice.

Scotland in January opened the gates for ScotWind, the first offshore wind tender to be administered from Holyrood and widely seen as a key accelerant in the development of the sector in the North Sea, with expectations the tender could uncork a $11.5 billion wave of investment in the regional industry as some 10GW of new plant is built.

The round has already attracted a stellar array of offshore wind contenders including Vattenfall, Orsted, BP, TotalEnergies and – most recently – Ocean Winds. Bids are due in later this week.

The global offshore wind market is set to mushroom to over 250GW by the end of the decade driven by some $810 billion in new projects, many being spurred by the growing shift in capital spending by international oil and gas operators, according to latest numbers from energy analysts Rystad.

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(This article first appeared in Upstream's renewable energy sister publication Recharge on 12 July, 2021.)