Sharing marine maintenance costs within new market spaces
Words: Stephen Holden, Maintenance Account Director, Global Marine Systems Limited
Although there have been power cables in the marine environment for many decades, there have been relatively few in number until fairly recently. Those that exist are predominately national or short haul international cables and in terms of total kilometres are rather limited.
Certainly this is the case when compared with telecoms cables, which have traditionally numbered hundreds of thousands of kilometres laid on the sea bed. As a result, the repair of power cables has very much been a niche market revolving around securing and mobilising VOOs (vessels of opportunity) or framework agreements, the latter mostly with the original cable installer/manufacturer and their specialist repair assets.
The financing of these repairs has always rested with the insurance industry, which because of the relative limited number of cables and faults, has been a model that has proved suitable for the majority of parties. However, with increasing awareness of climate change and the subsequent desire for more renewable and cleaner power sources, there has been a big push (particularly in the European region) for the development of large amounts of offshore wind capacity. This has led to a significant increase in power cable sea bed kilometres to service and connect wind farms to their respective national grids. In the European region specifically, there has also been an increase in the number of international links, to more effectively harness and transmit electricity around the various power markets.