Nutreco buys stake in company which wants to refit jack-up rigs into salmon farms

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Skretting’s parent company, Nutreco, has a 12.5 per-cent stake in Roxel Aqua, which is now changing its name to Blár.

In March, Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries Fisheries announced that it had granted Roxel Aqua support in its complaint that the concept of Octopus could not be granted development permits as it did not meet the requirement for significant innovation.

Nutreco has been a supporter of the project since 2017, which will modify used jack-up drilling rigs and equip them with retractable cages that provide the opportunity to farm salmon at sea.

Viggo Halseth, Nutreco’s global innovation director, will be given a board seat in Blár. The company has previously invested in several RAS facilities in other parts of the world. Now the Dutch are also investing in Norway.

New technology
“We support new technology, hence ocean-based, to bring out new technology in addition to the existing one to increase the world’s seafood production. If we are to fivefold the seafood production in Norway, we need new technology and new ways of doing aquaculture in Norway as well. And we at Nutreco believe that the Octopus project can be part of the solution,” said Viggo Halseth in a press release.

The project has applied for 14 development licences, and Blár is now working on completing further documentation on how to operate in exposed weather areas before the number of licences is established.

“We have control over this, and the fact that Nutreco is now joining the ownership side shows the realism of the project,” said Blár CEO Dag Øyvind Meling.

Withstands extreme weather
“We do not spend money on building completely new structures, but we are using available and proven installations that can withstand extreme weather. From oil and gas, we are used to waves of 20-30m in the North Sea. Other fish farming solutions must lie or pull in when it inflates. Here the rig can be lifted up and the salmon cages can be pulled down to deeper water when the waves rise. Thus, the facilty avoids a crash and salmon escapes. Having the facilities at sea also improves the growth conditions for the salmon,” said Ferkingstad.

Roxel Aqua has applied for 14 development licences for the concept of Octopus which consists of a modified jackup rig with 12-14 cages. The concept consists of several anchor bolt pull-down cages in combination with, among other things, “oil rig” as a base. The cages will encircle the rig and will be able to be pulled down below the sea surface using winches.

Blár is now starting work on raising capital for the project, which can employ up to 100 people and will have a cost framework of EUR 112-114 million.

Retractable cages
“The goal is to have a production cost that is competitive with traditional production. But we will also produce and sell the technology in addition to the fact that the technique of retractable cages can be installed at several existing sites in our fjords, so that the fish can get away from infection, algae or lice that may be in the upper water layers,” said Meling.

Although this is a Nutreco decision and a purely Nutreco investment, Skretting is a partner.

“We are pleased that our owners are investing in Norway and in new technologies that support the growth in Norwegian aquaculture. New forms of production, whether at sea, on land or in closed sea facilities generate a need for new knowledge and new experiences. Skretting has always played a leading role in innovation in Norwegian aquaculture, and we will continue to be a preferred partner and supplier when our customers use new technologies and new areas to increase their production while maintaining fish welfare,” said Skretting Norway CEO Håvard Walde.


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