Swansea Bay Retender

The £300m marine works contract for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will be retendered this autumn, five months after China Harbour Engineering Company was axed from the job.

5th August 2016

Bidding for the £300m marine works contract will begin by October, with a decision expected before its financial close next summer according to Developer Tidal Lagoon Power.

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CHEC, one of the world’s largest marine contractors, was removed from the £1.3bn project in May, following a review of its contract. The developer said CHEC’s designs had “limited workability”, adding that it needed to deliver “optimal value for money to investors and consumers”.

Last week Swansea Bay construction director Mike Unsworth told Construction News that the firm had started engaging with potential replacements. He said the list comprises many of those firms that missed out on the contract when it was originally tendered. “We are talking with those parties now and, in effect, understanding their interest in bidding – there is a huge amount of interest as you would expect”, he added.

The construction head said the majority of interested companies were based in Belgium and the Netherlands, with UK-based firm Westminster Dredging also interested.

Westminster Dredging is a subsidiary of the world’s biggest dredging company, Dutch-based Boskalis and has carried out a number of high-profile dredging jobs across the UK.

Chinese firm CHEC was originally chosen as the preferred bidder for the marine contract last June only to be axed in October. Commenting on this, Mr Unsworth said: “We went through a fairly intense process last year where we were developing design and construction methodologies not just for marine works but all the construction contracts.

“When we came out of that process we looked at where we were with updated costs, programme interfaces [and] risks and we took the position at that point [that] CHEC was not value for money.”

The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project was given the green light by the then-energy secretary Amber Rudd in June 2015. The government and Tidal Lagoon Power have since failed to agree a strike price, with construction already delayed by a year. Former energy minister Charles Hendry is leading a review into the cost-effectiveness of tidal energy that is set to publish its findings in the autumn. If a strike price is agreed for Swansea Bay, marine works will begin in March 2018, with the plant fully operational by 2023.