Offshore Wind Joint Ventures – Structuring Considerations

June 7, 2021

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The U.S. offshore wind industry has been a source of much excitement in the shipping community of late. The Biden administration has set an ambitious goal of reaching 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, and accordingly, there is projected to be a substantial demand for the various types of purpose-built vessels that will be needed to serve the U.S. offshore wind industry. The offshore wind industry in the U.S. has had a delayed start. Europe (as well as East Asia) has already had large-scale wind farms in operation and obtained the know-how running and maintaining these sites. Naturally, a non-U.S. vessel operator that has accumulated substantial experience would be eyeing opportunities in the U.S. However, as many of these vessels will need to comply with the U.S. legal requirements (known as the Jones Act), which limit non-U.S. ownership and control of vessels that engage in the U.S. coastwise trade, such involvement by a non-U.S. operator is complicated. An elegant solution to this mismatch is a contractual project-based collaboration or a joint venture between an experienced non-U.S. operator and a U.S.-based company that qualifies for Jones Act purposes. This article discusses some of the considerations that need to be kept in mind when forming a joint venture in the shipping space, with a particular focus on issues relating to offshore wind assets.