FoundOcean, a dedicated offshore construction grouting company, brings 50 years of offshore and subsea foundation grouting in the oil and gas sector to offshore windpower. The UK-based company recently opened a new office in Houston, saying the city is a perfect place to grow its business in the Americas.
FoundOcean has completed more than 100 offshore projects in U.S. and Canadian waters for installation contractors including McDermott, Cal Dive, and Technip. These range from compliant tower foundation grouting, to record-breaking deep-water fabric formwork deployments for pipeline repair installations.
As investment continues in the renewables sector, FoundOcean is bringing its expertise to the supply chain, and has been involved in offshore wind and wave projects since 2003.
Windpower Engineering and Development recently caught up with FoundOcean’s managing director, Jim Bell, and asked a few questions about the company, including its involvement constructing the world’s largest offshore wind turbine, the 7-MW Samsung turbine in Fife, Scotland. Listen to the whole interview below.
WPE: To begin, please tell us a little about FoundOcean and its history in wind farm grouting.
Bell: FoundOcean has existed in various corporate forms for nearly 50 years. We started in the 1960s with offshore oil and gas construction in the Middle East. We have a long history of mixing and pumping cement offshore for construction, and in the last few years, we translated that into the renewable energy industry.
You have offices all around the world – who are your clients?
Clients in the wind space are typically installation contractors, although occasionally the operator. As you know, the wind industry has a slightly mixed contracting approach. Our clients include RWE group and Seaway Heavy Lifting.
What types of turbine foundations do you grout today?
As we speak, we’re grouting both jacket structures and monopiles. There is no specific type that we have a preference for.
What are some of your key renewable energy projects?
Our first involvement in renewable energy was Thornton Bank in 2010. (The Thornton Bank Offshore Wind Farm has a total capacity of 326 MW and is installed 30 km off the Belgian coast. The turbine foundations sit in water depths ranging from 12 to 27 meters.) What we’re currently working on includes smaller test projects, such as Fife.
FoundOcean recently secured a contract to pile grout the foundation for the world’s largest offshore wind turbine in Fife, Scotland. It will be the first 7-MW turbine. Can you tell us about the project?
It’s not a large project for FoundOcean in terms of total work. After all, it’s just one foundation, and it’s being constructed close to shore. It’s possible to walk form shore out to the turbine. We’re involved in the construction of that walkway. In terms of turbine size – at 7 MW – it’s groundbreaking. Each blade is a little in excess of 80 meters.
One thing we did want to do with this project because it’s revolutionary was to develop a revolutionary mixing system. During the course of this year, we developed and brought to market a mixer that is capable of producing ultra-high strength grout. It can produce 10 to 12 cubic meters of this per hour.
What advances have been made in the grouting industry recently?
Grouting as a process has been around for 50 years, so it’s a well-established technology. Most of the advances now are made are in the mixing process – optimizing the machinery. It’s only in the last few years, since the advent of the offshore wind construction industry, that more advanced cement material has become available.
The most recent innovation is BASF’s Masterflow, which has been in the market for the last three years.
Our role as a service company is to improve on the performance of the mixing systems –such as the speed of mixing, to improve the output rate. If you can eliminate a couple of hours on every foundation that’s installed on a project with several hundred foundations, then that will represent a significant savings.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
There is always a lot of scrutiny the offshore wind industry – in fact, the renewable energy industry in general. As a company, FoundOcean has made substantial investments to serve this industry. We’ve done that because we view the European renewable energy industry as a long-term, well-supported market. When the various interest groups get things sorted out in the U.S., that will apply there as well.
Listen to the whole interview here:
Filed Under: Construction, Offshore wind, Podcasts, Towers