(Updates with details, background, comment from Shell and Eneco)
By Toby Sterling and Thomas Escritt
AMSTERDAM, May 12 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell is in a consortium bidding to build two 350 megawatt wind farms off the coast of the Netherlands, the oil company said on Thursday, delivering on a promise to invest more in wind energy.
Shell, bidding in the Dutch government tender together with energy company Eneco and contractor Van Oord NV, will use turbines built by Vestas if successful, the three companies in the consortium said in a statement.
Dutch media reports have said there are up to six other bidders for the Borssele project, which the government plans to expand later this decade to become one of Europe’s largest offshore wind farms.
Other parties named as possible bidders include Danish utility Dong Energy, German utility RWE, Dutch energy company Delta and the province of Zeeland.
The economic affairs ministry is due to choose the winners by the end of July, with a possible extension until September.
Eneco would operate the wind farm and sell the electricity generated, with privately-held marine engineer Van Oord building it, Eneco spokesman Toby Ellson said.
Shell’s involvement in the project is a tentative step towards making greater investments in low-carbon forms of energy, which it promised earlier this year as a slump in oil prices hit its main revenue stream.
Many European oil and gas companies are increasingly looking to cleaner energy technologies to diversify away from their traditional, carbon-intensive businesses.
Italy’s ENI announced on Thursday plans to build renewable energy projects in Italy, Pakistan and Egypt while France’s Total has established a gas, renewables and power division.
“We decided to join forces early on to make optimum use of our strengths in wind farm design, offshore project management, financing and technology,” Shell said.
“We have substantial offshore expertise in the North Sea (and) ... managing large projects.”
In the early 2000s, Shell invested in eight onshore wind projects in the United States and one Dutch offshore wind project. (Additional reporting by Karolin Schaps in London; editing by Susan Thomas and David Clarke)