PES speaks to Meriaura’s Xavier De Meulder about the Finnish shipping company’s wind power credentials and aspirations, the state of the European market, and delivering on promises whatever the weather…
PES: Welcome to PES magazine. Can you begin by giving us a brief overview of your company and outline how you serve the wind industry?
Xavier De Meulder: Meriaura is a privately-owned shipping company, founded 25 years ago. The company started off with a small tug and gradually grew to become an important shipping company in Finland. We offer various services all focusing around providing sustainable, efficient and custom-oriented logistics services. Through various set-ups, Meriaura owns and/or operates presently 14 vessels and employs around 100 people, generating a turnover of more than Euros 35M in the last year.
The main business consists of shipping and chartering for raw materials, recyclables and agriculture products on the import and export trades for the Finnish industries.
In recent years, Meriaura has also grown to become a foremost transport and logistics provider for industrial projects and special cargoes.
PES: Does the transportation of wind turbines present you with any particular challenges, and how do you overcome them?
XDM: The challenges within the offshore windmill markets in general are:
* The industry is moving forward fast. The situation changes from day to day.
* The lack of standardisation in the present industry – as in both technical and operational procedures.
These challenges are addressed by being flexible and having close and good communication channels with customers.
PES: We note that you’ve recently extended your fleet with three new vessels. What is the strategy behind such a massive investment?
XDM: To meet customer and market requirements, the fleet has to be continuously updated. Not only in quantity, but also quality. The strategy is to rejuvenate the fleet gradually, without causing operational disturbances, and at the same time to meet the highest standards and latest environmental requirements.
PES: Please tell us a little about your involvement with the Sheringham Shoal wind farm…
XDM: Sheringham Shoal is a major project, whereby huge and complex technical and operational challenges have to be met. Under Meriaura’s scope we performed the transportation of monopiles and transition pieces from two shore bases in the Netherlands to the UK east coast, where the offshore site is under construction.