Fluor Settles With Utilities in U.K. Wind-Farm Construction Dispute
U.S.-based Fluor Corp. has settled long-standing claims and counterclaims worth hundreds of million of dollars over faulty foundations at the 500-MW, $1.8-billion Greater Gabbard wind farm, sited 25 kilometers off the east coast of England.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Farm owner Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Ltd., which was embroiled in a long-running legal dispute with Fluor, has confidence in the disputed foundations' “long-term structural integrity."
The wind-farm developer is co-owned by Scottish utility SSE plc. and the U.K. unit of Germany's RWE Innogy GmbH.
“Fluor designed and built a safe, fit-for-purpose facility, and we are pleased that the operating wind farm is meeting the owner’s operating expectations,” said Fluor's chairman and CEO, David Seaton, in a statement.
Since being fully energized last September, the wind farm has been operationally available for 90% of the time, confirms a Greater Gabbard spokesman.
The dispute centered on faults—thought to concern welds—in 35 of the farm's 140 large-diameter steel-tube “monopile” turbine foundations, which have been plugged into the seabed in 30 meters of water.
Also in dispute were 52 steelwork sleeves, known as "transition pieces," that fit over the monopiles to support the turbine towers.
Last November, the contract's arbitration panel threw out a $385-million claim by Fluor to cover additional work, leaving a counterclaim of similar value to be resolved.
Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. fabricated the monopiles, which are up to 6.3 m dia, and the transition pieces. The steelwork was shipped from China to the Netherlands. Denmark's Ramboll Group, Copenhagen, is the foundation designer.
Fluor's involvement with the project dates back a decade, when it teamed with the Irish Republic’s utility Aitricity Holding Ltd. to create the Greater Gabbard company. Fluor sold its 50% interest after all the contracts, including its turnkey agreement, were sealed in 2008.