(uploaded 13 03 23)

Hunter offshore wind

The momentum for the establishment of Offshore Wind in Australia took another step forward in February when the Federal Government opened its consultation period for the Hunter Offshore Renewable Energy Zone.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen made the announcement in Newcastle together with Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon and State and Local Government representatives.

The consultation period is open until 28th April 2023. Interested members should go to the Department of Climate Change website - Consultation hub | Offshore renewable energy infrastructure area proposal: Pacific Ocean off Hunter - Climate Change (

AIMPE has previously written to Minister Bowen about Offshore Wind and we have included him in our submissions calling for a new national maritime training program – to ensure that there is a supply of skilled Australian seafarers ready to undertaken the work need to construct and operate the Hunter Offshore Wind Farms.

One of the existing proponents of a Hunter Offshore Wind farm is Oceanex Energy. Oceanex have prepared a detailed proposal which can be downloaded from their website - Oceanex Energy | Energising the new economy | Oceanex

The waters off the NSW coast are quite different from the waters of the Bass Strait off Gippsland Victoria which was the location for the first consultation in Australia over an Offshore Renewable Energy Zone. The continental shelf drops steeply off the NSW coast and the Offshore waters off NSW are too deep for the installation of Wind Turbine towers that are fixed to the seabed. This means that the Hunter Offshore Winds farms will be floating towers.

The vast majority of the Offshore Wind farms in the operation around the world today are fixed to the seabed in relatively shallow waters. Only a handful are floating Offshore Wind farms.

A variety of designs for floating Offshore Winds towers are being considered by the various proponents and developers. Whatever design eventually proves the most robust and cost effective it is almost certain that they will be largely constructed in the nearest suitable port and then towed onto location. Anchors will then be deployed to secure each tower into position.


The Oceanex proposal indicates that they will deploy over 130 towers- so that is quite a job in the initial deployment phase. Each tower will require multiple anchors to be laid so this will not just be a tow and drop operation. The towers will be connected to offshore substations and then a large cable will be laid for transmission of the electricity to the east coast grid ashore.

During the operation phase Oceanex’s indicative planning is the up to 8 vessels will be required and these will be based in Newcastle. Some of these will be crew transfer vessels to take maintenance personnel out to the turbine towers. Others will be larger vessels with greater capability to carry out a range of tasks.

In Oceanex’s submission they suggest a marine base in Newcastle with sufficient space for 8 Offshore Wind Support Vessels. The “artists impression of the base places it virtually alongside the main tug base in Newcastle. Maritime companies which have been consulted by Oceanex in the process of preparing its report include Atlas, Bhagwan, Boskalis and Tek Ocean. Oceanex has also entered into a relationship with the Norwegian Offshore operator Equinor (of the ill-fated Great Australian Bight oil & gas proposal).

The tie up with Equinor is significant because the Norwegian giant is now operating the largest floating Offshore Wind farm in the worlds. Interestingly the 11 tower Hywind Tampen project is located between two large Oil & Gas facilities and the output from the Wind Turbines will help power the Oil & Gas facilities. For more info go to the Equinor site: First power from Hywind Tampen - Equinor

The Hunter Renewable Energy Zone is large enough for several Offshore Wind farms to be developed over time. Each Offshore Wind Farm of the scale of the Oceanex project is expected ot be able to generate 2,000Mw – equivalent in output to one of the existing baseload coal-fired power stations which are due to be closed over the coming decades.

The construction of the Hunter Offshore Wind project in not likely to commence before 2028 – so this is a long-term prospect, its not just around the corner. Oceanex is just one proponent and there is no suggestion that they have preferred approval status but they have put together a serious report and that places them at the front of the pack.

Last year a total of six Offshore Renewable Energy Zones were announced by the Federal Government. The first consultation was for the Bass Strait area off Gippsland. Hunter Coast is the second. The other four are: Illawarra Coast NSW, North East Tasmania, Portland, Victoria and Perth- Bunbury WA. These six regions could all support multiple Offshore Wind projects and so as the “net zero by 2050” deadline approaches there will be more and more pressure to produce more and more of Australia’s energy needs by renewable means. Offshore Wind is going to be a significant part of the story.

AIMPE response to Esso's Bass Strait Offshore Decommissioning Plan 

(uploaded 29 08 22)

AIMPE has lodged a submission with NOPSEMA in response to the Decommissioning Plan proposed by Esso for the Halibut, Fortescue, Cobia, Mackerel, Kingfish A, Kingfish B, West Kingfish, Flounder platforms.

AIMPE has urged NOPSEMA to reject Esso’s proposal to cut the eight deep water structures covered in this EP at 55 meters below sea level, and to leave up to 5m of the two shallower-water structures in place. AIMPE along with other interested unions has called on NOPSEMA to ensure that Esso complies with their obligations to remove all of its disused offshore oil and gas infrastructure, as per the OPGGS Act.

Leaving infrastructure in place would set an inappropriate and potentially dangerous precedent for the rest of Esso’s decommissioning campaign, and for other Australian decommissioning projects. A copy of the full submission can be read using the following link:

AIMPE Submission to NOPSEMA re Esso Decommissioning Plan 29 08 22.pdf AIMPE Submission to NOPSEMA re Esso Decommissioning Plan 29 08 22.pdf

Offshore Reunion in WA

Dates have been set for an Anchor Clankers' reunion in WA in October