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SSE drops Gabbard bombshell

Up to 52 of the foundations supporting turbines at the Greater Gabbard Offshore wind farm are “defective”, according to owner SSE.

The company revealed today, with all but around 20 of the 140 turbines installed, that it is looking to Fluor to rectify the situation so foundations meet the contract. Industry sources said the news raises the possibility of some turbines having to be taken down and resited.

SSE said: “In October 2011, on the basis of the available evidence, including from its own programme of testing, and independent advice, GGOWL notified Fluor Limited that all 52 of the relevant foundations are defective and do not meet the standard required by the contract between the two companies.”

SSE further explained that of these 52 foundations Fluor previously corrected defects that had been identified in a number of the monopiles before they were installed, and it believes that these repaired monopiles are sound. However it said: “The balance of the monopiles and all 52 of the transition pieces are believed to be defective.”

reNews exclusively reported in July 2009 that around 50 foundations fabricated in China had quality problems. At the time an army of welders was mobilised to Holland by Fluor to make repairs delaying the installation programme by months.

SSE said today: “GGOWL believes that the onus is currently on Fluor Limited to determine how it proposes to meet its contractual obligation to ensure that the transition pieces and monopiles comply with the contract and that Fluor Limited will be liable for all associated costs. GGOWL hopes that Fluor Limited will comply with its obligations in a satisfactory way but if necessary GGOWL will protect its contractual rights by issuing a formal counter claim.”

GGOWL remains in a contractual dispute with Fluor relating to “the quality of lower foundations (monopiles) and upper foundations (transition pieces) used in the early stages of the development and supporting 52 of the 140 turbines”.

The contractual dispute centres on the claim by Fluor Limited of around £300m relating to time and costs Fluor Limited alleges it incurred in carrying out additional testing and repairs of some of the welds on these foundations, “against which GGOWL has submitted what it believes is a very robust defence”, SSE said.