Oil and Gas Companies Discuss Diversification at the Offshore Wind Executive Summit

On Wednesday in Houston at the Offshore Wind Executive Summit, representatives from Statoil, DONG Energy, Avangrid/Iberdrola and US Wind explained why their companies decided to move into offshore wind after working in offshore oil and gas for decades.

Meagan Keiser, legal counsel for Statoil said that just this year her company launched a new division called Statoil New Energy Solutions with the aim of building a profitable renewable business.

“So, my team is now working full-time in renewables,” she said.

DONG Energy’s President of North American Wind Power Thomas Brostrøm said that a decade ago, DONG (an acronym for Danish Oil and Natural Gas) was a “completely different company,” with much of its focus on fossil fuel. Today, 80 percent of the company’s business is in offshore wind, representing $1.2 billion per year.

“This is becoming a very serious business for us,” he said.

He also pointed out that the fastest growing renewable energy in the OECD is offshore wind, representing 25 percent of all renewable energy activity.

Avangrid/Iberdrola holds two leases in U.S. waters, both in the “pre-consent phase,” said David Rowland, New Business Director. Rowland said that he would like to see the oil and gas industry take some risk and jump into the market. He pointed out that the UK companies that did that early on are reaping the benefits now. The UK has been building offshore wind farms for more than 10 years and currently has about 30 operating offshore wind farms representing around 5.4 GW of capacity.

Paul Rich is the director of project development at US Wind, the self-proclaimed “David” to the “Goliaths” on stage. He had a more specific message for the audience.

“If you are looking for something to do, take a look at Maryland. We will need around 125 turbine installations. Each is going to use a jacket similar to O&G,” he said.

Indeed, all of the panelists urged the audience, which was made up of a majority of oil and gas industry players, to investigate offshore wind opportunities now: make necessary investments that would allow them to diversify and line up partners today. Brostrøm said DONG has invested tens of millions of dollars in the US market today without realizing any revenue yet.

The primary offshore wind activity taking place today is in permitting, with construction activities expected to begin within the next 2-3 years. 

“We need to look at this sector and see where is it going [and ask] do we believe in it,” said Iberdrola’s Rowland.

“If you wait for orders, you might miss the boat.”

The panel discussion, which was moderated by Stephanie McClellan of the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind at the University of Delaware, took place in Houston, Texas during the Offshore Wind Executive Summit on August 9 & 10.

Lead image fom left to right: Stephanie McClellan, Ph.D., Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, University of Delaware; Meagan Keiser, Legal Counsel, Statoil; Thomas Brostrøm, President, North America, Wind Power DONG Energy; David Rowland, New Business Director, Scottish Power/Avangrid; and (standing) Paul Rich, Director, Project Development, US Wind


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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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