CRIST S.A, a shipyard located in the Port of Gdynia, was founded in 1990. Their expertise lies in shipbuilding, offshore constructions, steel structures, sea and civil engineering. To date, CRIST is the only shipyard in Europe to construct units for the installation and servicing of sea wind farms.
Offshore wind operations are increasing in Poland and first production is expected in 2025. LNG is also gaining traction and will play an important role in the energy ecosystem. What does this mean for CRIST’s business
Both are good prospects for our business to grow. We are already involved in discussions surrounding offshore wind farms - we are in fact the only company in Poland able to build the necessary type of vessels. By this I mean we own appropriate facilities and also an excellent track record. To date, we have built four jack-up vessels, the type of the vessel which is considered as one of the most sophisticated in the offshore shipping.
In 2012 we handed over the most powerful heavy-lift jack-up vessel in the world at that time, rightfully named Innovation. It uses a high-performance 1,500 tons crane, and a payload capacity of up to 8,000 tons.
To put things in perspective, this vessel enables safe loading and installation of 6 MW+ wind turbines with overall heights of more than 120 meters, as well as heavy foundations in water depths of up to 65 m.
This is a fantastic achievement given that eight years ago offshore wind farms were barely a discussion in Poland. What do you credit for this success?
I see it as a combination of luck, brave and risk-taking attitude - we do not shy away from taking on projects which other shipyards deem impossible. This and various collaboration projects allowed us to stack up precious knowledge and skills.
You are also among the world’s pioneers for hybrid vessels - how mature is this technology?
So far we built two such vessels and have contracted a third one, for which construction will begin mid-2020. We can tell that our partner, Finferries, was pleased with the result because they contracted us for a new project. It will be a 100 m long, 17m wide vessel with the capacity to transport 90 cars and 350 passengers. We expect it will be in operation in 2022.
The first hybrid vessel we launched (Elektra) was the second of its kind globally and proved to be a success. It is powered by shore-charged batteries solely and backed up by diesel power generators in extreme conditions only. The ship owner has confirmed that 99% of the time the vessel runs on batteries.
What can we expect from CRIST in the coming 2-3 years? Will you prioritize work for the offshore wind sector?
We do not focus on a specific sector, in fact we are keen to maintain a diversified portfolio. The vessels we build will remain varied, able to serve offshore oil & gas operations, installation of sea wind farms, the fishing industry and so on.
Geography wise, we have a very strong footprint in Europe and plan to maintain it. About 98% of our clients are from France, Germany, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands. The reason so much of our business comes from abroad is that there are not many big ship owners in Poland, which means the domestic market cannot support the extent of our operations.
Are you eyeing markets outside of Europe as well?
It is difficult to expand into these markets because of strong competition from the Far East. We are presently looking for ways to enter the American arena, but there are some obstacles to overcome - the United States has special regulations in place (the Jones Act) which do not allow American ship owners to build vessels abroad. There are ways to override this act but we have to diligently seek the right path.
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