Article

Insurers losing patience with offshore wind cabling claims

Insurers are increasingly concerned about the mounting number of expensive cable-installation claims in offshore wind projects, with the large number of incidents put down to a complex mix of human factors and technical issues.

Insurers are increasingly concerned about the mounting number of expensive cable-installation claims in offshore wind projects, with the large number of incidents put down to a complex mix of human factors and technical issues.

Tom Kristiansen, an engineer and senior trading underwriter with Danish insurance company Codan, tells Recharge that about 80% of total paid claims related to offshore wind farms stem directly from cable-related issues.

"Something has to be done, as there have been too many claims in the past few years," he says. "The reasons for these claims, of course, vary, but a pattern is emerging, which relates to poor workmanship, tight time schedules and weather conditions."

Kristiansen says it is vital that experienced personnel are on duty around the clock when installation vessels are operating.

"When you look at workmanship issues, there have been so many different factors involved in a claim. It is very important the whole crew have the necessary experience."

Codan, as a result, implemented an improved "scope of work" for marine warranty surveyors this year and is working on improvements to be introduced in offshore cable work during 2013.

Ton Geul, business development manager... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Insurers are increasingly concerned about the mounting number of expensive cable-installation claims in offshore wind projects, with the large number of incidents put down to a complex mix of human factors and technical issues.

Tom Kristiansen, an engineer and senior trading underwriter with Danish insurance company Codan, tells Recharge that about 80% of total paid claims related to offshore wind farms stem directly from cable-related issues.

"Something has to be done, as there have been too many claims in the past few years," he says. "The reasons for these claims, of course, vary, but a pattern is emerging, which relates to poor workmanship, tight time schedules and weather conditions."

Kristiansen says it is vital that experienced personnel are on duty around the clock when installation vessels are operating.

"When you look at workmanship issues, there have been so many different factors involved in a claim. It is very important the whole crew have the necessary experience."

Codan, as a result, implemented an improved "scope of work" for marine warranty surveyors this year and is working on improvements to be introduced in offshore cable work during 2013.

Ton Geul, business development manager of Visser & Smit Marine Contracting and chairman of a new Cable­Risk joint industry project, says: "We are now getting going with UK Round 3 projects, without fully taking on board the lessons from Round 1."

This learning is essential, as offshore wind activity "has exploded" in the UK North Sea, and he tells Recharge: "We have not been able to bring the appropriate skills into this industry. This is causing a lot of the problems we are now facing. [A skills shortage] is something all stakeholders are facing, not just contractors but their clients - everybody in the wind industry."

He believes some failures have been down to a lack of skills. "It is partly due to hardware, as we need to bring in the right tools, but it's also due to a lack of skills. If you don't have the experience in your pocket, you will make mistakes, and I think that is what we have seen over the past couple of years."

The principal engineer for DNV KEMA Cleaner Energy Services, Thomas Boehme, who founded and heads the CableRisk initiative, says many incidents have occured "from delays in ­executing work, to actual ­damage to power cables during construction", adding that problems have also cropped up later in the operational life of wind farms.

Boehme says the insurance sector has voiced concerns about the mounting cable problems for some time, "yet until now, not much has been done in the way of initiatives to overcome these underlying problems.

"So two years ago, DNV carried out a stakeholder consultation asking what has been going wrong and where the problems really lie. The timeline shows that things have been a problem throughout the past decade."

Kristiansen says cable-related issues in the North Sea have sometimes been caused by bad conditions during very tight weather windows, meaning that work has had to be rushed. "If you happen to have a vessel chartered for a particular project, and there are weather-related delays, then you might have to be quicker during the installation phase."

He says it is a positive trend that many cable-installation contractors have now chartered newer and better-designed vessels that are fit for purpose.

"We hope it will just come down to improved industry practice and the wind industry better regulating itself," he says.

"Normally an industry that admits it has too many claims will try to do something to improve it, and I think this is how it should be done. The focus should be that you have the right equipment, the right crew and the right procedures.

"Developers should be more focused on which contractor they choose. It is not just a matter of insurance, because if the cable project is not good they could have problems later."


Source: http://www.rechargenews.com...

NOV 30 2012
http://www.windaction.org/posts/35461-insurers-losing-patience-with-offshore-wind-cabling-claims
back to top