Equinor is hunting opportunities in Brazil to increase its offshore wind portfolio, with floating wind being viewed as key to the sector’s global success going forward, according to chief executive Anders Opedal.

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“We are a broad energy company and Brazil is one of the places that we are able to develop this strategy,” the boss of the Norwegian state-controlled oil and gas player said in an interview at the Rio Oil & Gas 2020 digital event on Tuesday.

“We are also looking for wind opportunities along the Brazilian coast,” he told moderator, IBP adviser Jorge Camargo, also flagging up that Equinor has already branched into Brazil’s renewable energy sector, including a solar joint venture.

“I still remember the warm sun and the fresh wind living in Brazil, so I have always been thinking that we need to be able to do something about offshore wind as well in Brazil,” Opedal said.

'Still early days - but looking at acreage'

“Actually, it was two years ago at Rio Oil & Gas last time that we signed an MoU [memorandum of understanding] together with Petrobras to look into this possibility,” he said of the 2018 accord with the Brazilian state oil and gas giant.

“We are also looking at some acreage off the coast of Brazil to see how we can develop. It is still early days, but we will definitely look into it,” Opedal said.

On floating wind, Opedal said this will be a “key component going forward” for the offshore wind market, given that water depths in many countries that would be suitable for such energy projects are too deep for fixed-bottom turbines.

Although he said floating wind is currently “a little bit expensive”, costs are coming down, as they have been with fixed-bottom turbines, meaning the industry can make floating wing “a very profitable area”.

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Opedal referenced Equinor’s ground-breaking Hywind Tampen project in Norway, a $500 million floating wind scheme that will see 11 turbines power five offshore oil platforms. The project is expected to start up in the third quarter of 2022.