With a dazzling mix of plans and projects at Teesworks, Redcar is once again a focus of activity.

From the famous seafront and the Redcar Beacon to bp’s Energy Education Hub at Redcar & Cleveland College and the new cinema, the town is playing a central role as the region changes.

Now plans are being put in place to welcome a new arrival. It might be staying for a relatively short time, but it will certainly be one of the most eye-catching visitors.

  • To get your tickets for the BUSINESSiQ Awards, CLICK HERE

The Sandpiper vessel is only about 12 metres by eight metres but will be just a few hundred yards offshore so an amazing landmark for a few weeks, playing its own role in the Redcar renaissance by testing the seabed and shore for vital pipeline work.

So why is it here and what is the work it will enable - understandably, the UK’s industrial emissions are concentrated in heavily industrialised zones containing collections of business that emit Carbon Dioxide. Teesside is one of those and joined forces with a similar industrial cluster in Humberside to create the East Coast Cluster to capture, transport and store up to 10 million tonnes of damaging CO2 145km offshore every year rather than causing damage to the atmosphere above us.

Sandpiper, which is operated by Lankelma is here for at least  three weeks to test the seabed and the landfall – the point where  pipelines or cables move on to land – to make sure the geology and structure can safely support the network of pipelines that will enable all that activity.

The vessel has four legs that will be lowered to the seabed, enabling it to lift the working platform above the water and stabilise it so that boreholes can be safely drilled. It will be moved between a series of borehole sites by a tug and supported by boats for emergency response and personnel transfers.

The testing is being carried out for the Northern Endurance Partnership – the bp led CO2 transportation and storage company that will deliver the shared infrastructure that underpins the East Coast Cluster.


The Northern Echo: Andy Lane, MD of the Northern Endurance PartnershipAndy Lane, MD of the Northern Endurance Partnership (Image: bp)Andy Lane, MD of the Northern Endurance Partnership, said “The East Coast Cluster will enable the decarbonisation of several existing and planned businesses across Teesside and the Humber, creating thousands of good quality jobs and helping to protect existing jobs in carbon intensive industries.

“The survey work underway off the coast of Teesside is a key milestone for the East Coast Cluster, and the information gathered will give us a clear picture of the ground conditions in the near shore area, enabling us to further refine our plans for the CO2 pipeline network that will safely transport and store millions of tonnes of CO2 from businesses on Teesside and the Humber – helping to establish the regions as globally-competitive climate-friendly hubs for industry and innovation”.

Nick van der Veen, the man in charge of the offshore element of the NEP’s transformational work in the North East, says the area’s high profile and the passion of local residents and businesses for the Redcar coast means his project and team fully understand the importance of conducting this work to the highest possible standards.

There will be a publicity campaign to advise people about how long Sandpiper is there for. NEP will be approaching local businesses like cafes and bars where there will be leaflets sharing information and points of contact. There will also be social media posts regularly during the duration of the work.

“This place in particular is really important because the whole dunes area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest,” he explains.

“So for that reason the landfall strategy that we are proposing is a trenchless route, which means that we will tunnel underneath the SSSI rather than trench through it

“We’ll be drilling boreholes down about 45 metres, depending on the geotechnical conditions that we find.”

The Sandpiper ‘jack-up’ vessel is especially designed for drilling these kinds of geotechnical boreholes in shallow water for this kind of application. It has just finished similar activity at Easington where the Humber pipeline comes ashore, has been dismantled and trucked up to Teesside from where it was towed out to the survey area.

The boreholes onshore further inland have already been started, so Sandpiper is the next step, starting around 1km from the coast and moving towards the beach, drilling boreholes at specific locations along the way. As the vessel moves closer towards the beach, everyone should keep a safe distance from the vessel, especially at low tide.

Nick says he is not expecting any substantial problems.

“I don’t think we will find anything particularly tricky,” he says.

The Northern Echo: How the East Coast Cluster will work togetherHow the East Coast Cluster will work together (Image: bp)

“The reason we can say that with some confidence is because EDF who operate the nearby windfarm, conducted some similar geotechnical surveys a couple of years ago and they have kindly shared their findings with us”.

“Nevertheless, we do need to verify that for ourselves because the area they surveyed was just a little bit further up the coast and we don’t want to find anything unexpected when we come to execute the work.

Read next:

“Just before Christmas we conducted a small geophysical survey of the area and ran some shallow seismic lines across the area. We also conducted a magnetometer survey looking for potential unexploded ordnance - always a possibility that we need to rule out, given Teesside’s history.

“All of those surveys came back with good results, so we are ready to take this next step.

“The work we are undertaking will help us to proceed with the deployment of some of the most groundbreaking technology the UK has ever seen.  We are grateful for the support we have received from local residents and businesses and are committed to keeping everyone fully informed as we work to make the East Coast Cluster vision a reality here on Teesside.”