Weldex knows which way the wind is blowing

27 February 2012

Weldex has announced plans to open a new depot in Nigg, Scotland, aimed at servicing a new generation of offshore wind turbines, as well as other energy jobs. Equipment used at the site will include a new 2,000t capacity Liebherr LR 11350 with P-boom, one of the first three orders for the cranes sold in this configuration.

The site in Nigg, on the Cromarty Firth on Scotland's north east coast, was formerly an oilrig construction yard. The yard was bought from KBR and the Wakelyn Trust in 2011 by Global Energy Group and is now being redeveloped to focus on wind energy. Weldex says it is in ‘well advanced’ negotiations with Global Energy to open a base within the planned Nigg Energy Park.

Weldex has built a healthy business servicing the needs of the wind energy industry. One of the company’s focuses has been on handling wind turbine components at the dockside. At Nigg, it plans to make use of a recently-ordered Liebherr LR 11350, configured with the German manufacturer's new P-Boom system for a capacity rating of 2,000t. In this configuration, the crane can lift 380t to a height of 120m at a 16m radius.

The new LR 11350 will be the third of the cranes in Weldex's fleet. It is the second confirmed order of the LR 11350 with the new double boom system: the first was ordered by Frans van Seumaren's new company, Roll-Lift. A third has also been confirmed to be under order by Russia's SOP&G.

Weldex will be using the new LR 11350 with P-Boom for a wide range of jobs across the UK and Europe. At Nigg, it will be used to help handle and assemble components for a new generation of 6–7MW offshore wind turbines.

Weldex sees its relocation to Nigg as a key strategic step, offering a complete lifting service for the oil, gas, subsea and renewable energy sectors from the Cromarty Firth. If successfully concluded, Weldex plan to base a fleet of cranes at Nigg as well as an operating team and rigging personnel.

Chief executive officer Doug McGilvray said: “Our team at the Energy Park will undertake daily rental or contract lifts with cranes from 40–600t lifting capacity and will have full backup from our Inverness head office, which supplies a complete engineering lifting design service including drawings, method statements and risk assessments.

“This is a major recruitment opportunity locally as we plan to significantly expand our current 135-strong workforce over the next few years, using riggers, banksmen and lifting equipment operators, freshly qualified by us in the Highlands as our ongoing recruitment stream.”

Weldex has recently completed the onshore lifting and assembly of turbine components and 800t monopiles from the Walney 1 and 2 offshore windfarm, using two of their 1,135t capacity cranes, SPMTs and reachstackers. The firm is currently working on the Sherringham Shoal, London Array and Lincs offshore windfarms, handling and assembling all the turbine components onshore and loading them on to marine transport.

McGilvray says that a successful move to Nigg will return Weldex to its roots. Formed 33 years ago, the firm supplied cranes, lifting equipment and personnel to the Highlands and Islands fabrication yards at Arnish Point, Kishorn, Nigg and Ardersier. As workload ebbed in Scotland, and grew elsewhere, the company moved its maintenance, repair and storage depot to Alfreton, Derbyshire, to avoid excessive transport costs to clients. The plan is now to reopen such a depot in the Highlands.

Weldex has invested more than £30m in the past two years in upgrading its fleet of cranes and lifting equipment. It has orders out for delivery of a further 16 units at an investment of £22m.

Last month Weldex completed three years of intensive work, including up to 32 cranes at a time, at the London Olympic Games site, latterly supplying the craneage for the new 120m high Orbit Tower which will be a focal point of the Games Stadium. They have also been involved in showpiece projects such as Wembley Stadium, The Emirates Stadium and Heathrow T5.

Weldex currently has cranes on rental to A2Sea in Great Yarmouth, OGN at their Tyneside fabrication yard and Technip for renewable energy projects. They are also working on contracts at Sellafield nuclear power station; Crossrail, the new railway under central London and Thames Water's £635 million Lee Tunnel sewage project.

Outside the UK, Weldex has also supplied customers in the US, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, West Africa, Mauritius and Latin America as well as much of Europe. The company says its strategy is to continue this worldwide focus while using the new depot to drive forward its oil, gas and renewables sector growth agenda in the UK.

A Weldex-owned Kobelco SL6000 moving turbine parts A Weldex-owned Kobelco SL6000 moving turbine parts
One of Weldex's existing LR 11350s at work One of Weldex's existing LR 11350s at work