Dong near decision on German offshore wind project

ESSEN, Germany Wed Feb 9, 2011 10:18am EST

ESSEN, Germany (Reuters) - Denmark's Dong is to take a decision on a German offshore wind project in the spring of 2011, its Chief Executive Anders Eldrup said on Wednesday.

The state-controlled oil and gas group, which is the world leader in wind energy, is studying whether to go ahead and build a 380 megawatts (MW) project in Germany's North Sea, called Borkum Riffgrund 1, Eldrup said in an interview.

"We are looking for a decision in the spring. If we decided in favor, the plant could go online in 2013/2014," he said.

Dong would initially hold 100 percent in the project company in charge of the 1 billion euro ($1.37 billion) plan, but look for partners for minority stakes, as in many of its projects in European countries.

"Partners reduce risks," he said, adding there were also in theory plans for another phase, Borkum Riffgrund 2, further down the line.

A positive decision would give Dong its first production assets in Germany. It has been active in wholesale power and gas provision to German local utilities and industry for six years.

Eldrup said that pension funds were interested in investing in wind energy, in addition to utility companies such as E.ON

and Abu Dhabi's green energy firm Masdar, whom it partners in the 630 MW London Array project in the Thames Estuary.

This will be the world's biggest offshore wind farm when it begins producing in 2012, a timetable that was still on course, Eldrup said.

PensionDanmark is co-owner with Dong and Stadtwerke Luebeck of Danish offshore wind farm Nysted.

Among other projects, Dong last summer was awarded a concession to build the 400 MW Anhold park in the Danish Kattegat Sea which might be commissioned in 2013, Eldrup said.

GROWTH INSIDE GERMANY

Dong's activities span coal, wind and biomass-to-power generation, oil exploration in the North Sea and wholesale energy trading.

It aims to strengthen its portfolio in Germany, said Eldrup, who visited Essen during the annual E-World trade fair.

"We want to expand our cooperation with local utilities. We want to sell more power and gas," he said.

Existing shareholdings, such as a 25.1 percent stake in northern Stadtwerke Luebeck, served as a basis but buying more such stakes was not at the forefront of strategy, he said.

Dong in 2009 bought Leipzig based trading firm KOM-Strom and wished to combine all its wholesale activities, in particular to shift the focus from the north-east further across the country.

Dong had decided against new coal-fired capacity at home and in Germany, where in 2009 it had to shelve plans for such plants in Emden and Lubmin, but was holding on to considerations whether to build a gas-fired plant in Germany, he said.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, Tom Kaeckenhoff and Camila Reed)

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