Friday, November 25, 2011

Green wind blows some good at Belfast

Belfast Harbour is to invest £50 million (US$77m) to develop a new terminal for the assembly of offshore wind turbines. 

The project is the largest in the facility’s 400-year history and will create 150 jobs and provide a major boost for the Northern Ireland construction industry.

The 20ha facility will initially support the construction of the West of Duddon Sands offshore wind farm – a 50:50 joint-venture between Danish state company Dong Energy and ScottishPower Renewables.

The terminal will open in 2013. The development is the first bespoke offshore wind installation and pre-assembly harbour in the UK, and is part of Belfast Harbour’s wider plans to create a renewable energy hub. 

Len O’Hagan, Chairman of Belfast Harbour, said: “This is one of the most important developments in the history of Belfast Harbour, providing a platform from which to market Northern Ireland as one of the UK’s leading green hubs.

“Dong Energy and ScottishPower Renewables are world leaders in renewable energy and their decision to invest in the Harbour is a major coup.”

The £50 million cost of the terminal will be funded entirely by Belfast Harbour which will, in turn, lease the facility to Dong Energy.

Source:   IFW

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Court orders liquidation of SeaFrance

The Paris commercial court has ordered the liquidation of SeaFrance – but allowed the ferry operator to continue trading until 28 January 2012.
The court yesterday judged that the two takeover bids for SeaFrance – one from DFDS and LD Lines and the other from a co-operative of SeaFrance workers – were "unsatisfactory".

However, it has left the door open for new offers to be submitted before 12 December.

In its judgement, the court said the bid from DFDS and LD Lines made provision for an important number of job cuts (around half of the company’s permanent workforce) and that there was, “therefore, a risk of a serious industrial relations conflict".

It also remarked that the price offered for SeaFrance’s vessels was too low in relation to their real value, and that the takeover would also create competition issues.

As for the co-operative’s bid, presented by SeaFrance’s main staff union, the CFDT, the court said it was unable to approve a bid whose financing was “non-existent”.

A tense situation had developed at SeaFrance’s home port of Calais yesterday, when around 150 seafaring staff occupied the company’s vessels.

This was in protest to a management decision on Tuesday to cancel all the ferry operator’s services between Calais and Dover until further notice, pending the court’s decision.

The company said it had taken the step in order to guarantee the safety of passengers, staff and property.

A contingent of riot police had been drafted in to prevent the port being blocked and to maintain public order.

The court’s verdict was greeted with cheers by SeaFrance staff in Calais.

“This is a great relief, while at the same there is the feeling that we now have even more responsibilities on our shoulders,” a senior union official said.

“We must now roll up our sleeves and get to work on lobbying politicians, SNCF and the state in order to secure the financing of our bid for SeaFrance.”

The co-operative is thought to require between €25-30 million in start-up capital.

Asked by IFW whether DFDS and LD Lines would be making a new offer for SeaFrance, LD Lines MD Christophe Santoni said no decision had been taken.

In a joint statement, the two companies said their bid had "offered the best guarantee of an enduring future for SeaFrance”, and “regretted that this had not been recognised”.

Meanwhile, French Transport minister Thierry Mariani  said the judgement “did not close any doors and offered more time to save SeaFrance”.

Earlier in the week, Economy Minister Fran├žois Baroin said France had decided to contest the European Commission’s decision last month to reject the recapitalisation plan for SeaFrance.

But he accepted that hopes of a successful appeal were slim.

Source;    IFW