Interview Pieter van Oord

A better world for future generations

Pieter van Oord is the CEO of marine contractor Van Oord, the succesful Rotterdam Company that has had a long-standing history with iPS. Van Oord was one of the first to envision a future in constructing offshore wind turbines. Pieter van Oord: ´One of the main challenges of the offshore wind industry is about the supply chain. ´

Could you say something about the partnership history between Van Oord and iPS?

´Van Oord and iPS have known each other for quite some time. Already in the early days of iPS, we made use of their services. The international character of our business and personal attention are closely related to the way iPS works. Our longterm relationship continued last spring. When we signed a renewed partnership agreement for the temporary staffing of our vessels.´

Van Oord is a forerunner in the transition to sustainable energy. What are your commercial, social and personal drives?

´There is a lot of interest in speeding up the transition to a cleaner energy system. In Europe, wind energy accounts for an increasing share of our electricity supply., and offshore wind energy especially is showing strong growth. Europe invested about 22.6 billion euros in offshore wind in 2016, and the total installed capacity worldwide was no less than 13 gigawatts. By 2020, this figure will rise to 25 gigawatts. Van Oord was an early adaptor in making offshore wind one of its main activities. We´ve invested in vessels and acquisitions, and we´ve worked on the construction of about 35 wind farms so far. These projects have a capacity of more than 6 gigawatts, or almost halt the total installed capacity worldwide at the present time.

In the construction of all the necessary infrastructure for these offshore wind farms, Van Oord has grown into a true specialist for the past fifteen tears, partly thanks to our 150 years of experience as an international marine contractor, combined with courage and entrepreneurship. As a family-owned company we think and act with responsibility and focus on the long term. In my opinion, contributing to the energy transition is contributing to a better world for future generations.´


What is the pace of wind energy developments, and what does this mean for Van Oord?

´Global warming and the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide will present colossal challenges in the decades ahead. Renewable energy is becoming increasingly important. As a marine contractor, Van Oord is the spider in the web when it comes to the transition to a sustainable energy system. The growth of the offshore wind industry gives us a tremendous opportunity to drive economic activity and employment in the Netherlands.

Even outside the usual offshore wind areas, like Northwestern Europe, our specialists are called in. For example in Taiwan, to help build the Yulin offshore wind farm, a large 640MW wind project. By obtaining this contact, Van Oord has taken a firm first step into the Asian offshore win market. One of the main challenges of the offshore wind industry is about the supply chain.  Efficiency in operations is key. In recent years, the supply chain achieved enormous cost reduction and efficiency, because there have been sufficient projects (in terms of market volume) on the market. The increased volume will lead to industrialisation of the supply chain. For example, huge steps have been taken in reducing cycle time of installation. More standardisation is also crucial, because it decreases construction time.´

In the development of wind energy on the Dutch political agenda high enough?

´Together with four leading Dutch companies (Shell, Eneco, Siemens and Port of Rotterdam Authority) Van Oord formed the Transitiecoalitie (transition coalition) to accelerate the energy transition towards a cleaner energy system. In order to urge the Dutch Government to take action on the Dutch Energy Agreement, the five companies want to show their commitment to take part in this public debate. More than sixty other Dutch companies have also signed this plea. We think that a central role for the central government is crucial in removing (policy) obstacles in favour of flexibility of the energy system and in the (re)development of the energy infrastructure.´


Could you say something about wind energy in relation to employment?

´I am convinced that a new energy system is more labour intensive than the current system. Imagine: millions of houses need a new energy infrastructure, the electricity system has to be enlarged, and wind farms need to be constructed and maintained. Looking more closely at the construction of the upcoming wind farms in the North Sea, we expect it will create about 10.000 to 15.000 new jobs in The Netherlands. Offshore wind projects can have a great impact on a region. Examples include the East Anglia Wind Farm, which had a favourable effect on the ports and employment in the Dutch Province of Zeeland, and the construction of the Gemini offshore wind farm, which benefited the Eemshaven region.´


´It´s the ingenious people who make Van Oord,´ you said previously.

´Marine ingenuity is our promise, and we want to create a better world for future generations. It´s the ingenious people who make Van Oord: their entrepreneurship. dedication, passion, team spirit and care. From talented trainee to experienced project manager, Van Oord gives all its employees the opportunity to get the best out of themselves. Typically, entrepreneurship at Van Oord involves a lot of responsibility and freedom. It also involves agility and the ability to respond to new circumstances.

Van Oord has made being an attractive employer its purpose. People like working for a successful company and an international trendsetter. In order to keep our position as a leader in this industry, Van Oord needs to keep skills and competencies up to date and needs to recruit and train young talent continuously. Making sure we assign the best people to the most complex projects requires us to seek out professionals who have the potential to be part of Van Oord.

For several years now, Van Oord´s Technical Traineeship has provided an ideal start for smart graduates. It offers them the chance to take a full year to become acquainted with our organisation, prestigious projects, and company culture. We also support initiatives to join forces with startups and to accelerate innovations and a mindset of continuous improvement.´


What impact will the development in wind energy have on the recruitment market?

´Our work is becoming increasingly complex, mainly because digitisation is playing an ever greater part in our everyday practice, but also due to stricter legislation and regulations on safety and the environment, especially in the offshore wind industry. More and more, the role of the contractor is shifting toward that of a specialist in EPC or a balance of plant contractor.

Meeting this complexity requires specific skills. We select new employees carefully on the basis of their knowledge, adaptability and innovative drive. In addition, we invest in our employees by providing dedicated training programmes.´

Kathleen de Geyter Jan de Nul

Kathleen de Geyter

HR Manager | Jan de Nul

Pieter van Oord CEO van Oord

Pieter van Oord

CEO | Van Oord

Lodewijk Wijngaard Boskalis

Lodewijk Wijngaard

HR Manager | Boskalis


Sam Merrick

Manager Tunnelling | Capelle aan den IJssel