The results were not overwhelming, as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held its first auction of lease areas for wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico. Three wind energy plots were on offer; one in shallow waters roughly 25 miles offshore Lake Charles (Louisiana) and two areas in waters approximately 30- 50 miles offshore Galveston, Texas.
As the bidding ended, BOEM announced one winner, saying: “The Department of the Interior today held the first-ever offshore wind energy auction for the Gulf of Mexico region, resulting in one lease area receiving a high bid of $5.6 million. RWE Offshore US Gulf, LLC was the winner of the Lake Charles Lease Area, which has the potential to generate approximately 1.24 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity and power nearly 435,400 homes with clean, renewable energy.”
Against the disappointing backdrop, BOEM noted that the two lease areas off Galveston did not receive any bids. Besides RWE, the list of bidders qualified for the auction included entities tied to energy heavyweights Shell, Total and Equinor.
BOEM has been making strides in other regions. On the East Coast, where all of the existing US offshore wind activity has been occurring, BOEM has now given the green light to a fourth US commercial scale offshore wind development- the 704 mW Revolution Wind project- located off the Rhode Island coast. The project is a joint venture of sector leader Ørsted and Eversource, a major electricity producer serving the region. When completed in the mid 2020’s it will serve consumers in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The project developers intend to advance the infrastructure at New London, Connecticut, with the intention of serving this project, and others within the Ørsted / Eversource realm.
In mid-August, BOEM announced two proposed areas for possible deployment of floating offshore wind, located in deep waters roughly 25 miles off the Oregon coast in the Pacific Northwest. The agency’s proposal, is in a “draft” and opens up a two month period where interested parties can submit comments that will guide the agency as it works its way towards a set of final sale documents.
Infrastructure considerations loom large throughout any discussions of wind energy in US waters. Crowley Maritime, a leading participant in all aspects of US Jones Act transportation, had previously announcement a partnership with the municipality in Salem, Massachusetts (north of Boston) to redevelop dormant dock space and create a terminal and laydown area serving offshore wind.
Furthering its infrastructure efforts, Crowley has now announced a tie-up with infrastructure financiers at investment bank Morgan Stanley; according to press announcements, “The joint venture will combine Crowley’s end-to-end maritime and logistics capabilities through the newly created Crowley Wind Services Holdings and the financial strength and expertise of Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners.”
Earlier, Crowley had formed “CREST”- a link up with Danish stalwart Esvagt, to build a Jones Act compliant Service Operations Vessel (SOV) at Fincantieri’s yard at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The vessel will be serving power provider Dominion Energy’s massive offshore wind project located offshore Virginia Beach, in the mid-Atlantic, with startup anticipated to be in 2026.
Resource: Final sale notice re Aug 29 Lease Sale (Gulf of Mexico)
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