All growth will happen on land, from eggs all the way to market size, between 4-5 kilos. A license has been granted for 33 000 tonnes of live fish, with the possibility of expanding to 66 000 tonnes. This development comes five years after Sande Aqua started the first conversations with Billund Aquaculture about this exciting project.
“Getting the necessary agreements in place with the public sector has taken its toll. But overall, we perceive this collaboration as a positive experience. The same applies to the relationship to Gulen municipality, in a regulatory context,” says Sande Aqua chairman, Stein-Inge Larsen.
“This is a big investment. Most likely, this will be the investment of the decade in what was known as Sogn and Fjordane county. We have spent our time well; the long waking night is over. After thorough preparation, we are on track,” assures Larsen.
Larsen lives in Byrknes, not far from Skipavik Business Park. He is one of the founders and majority owner of the park. Skipavik Business Park houses more than just aquaculture, with extensive offshore activity, a trucking company, real estate, among other things. It lies by Fensfjord, 70 miles north of Bergen. The fish farm will be surrounded by other maritime services. Larsen believes the location is optimal.
“We have access to water and are among Norway’s largest green ports when it comes to shore power and we have enough space, even though the new salmon facility requires 10 times the power of Brann Stadion. The facility is near Flesland airport and we have our deep-water wharf should the need arise.”
Larsen reinforces how pleased he is with Sande Aqua’s process supplier:
“We consider ourselves pioneers. We will, of course, hire professional biologists and the like. Fully developed, the plant will need 70-80 employees. Preferably, as many as possible from the local area. It’s reassuring to have Billund Aquaculture on the team - with their unique experience and expertise in "Grow Out" (salmon up to full size on land). They are also known for their hands-on approach and assistance during and after commissioning. The choice of RAS-supplier was made several years ago. Price has never been an issue. Trust is more important.”
As mentioned, the first stage includes the production of 33,000 tonnes of salmon, of which 27,000 tonnes will be full-sized fish. The remaining 6,000 tons are raised to post-smolt, roughly weighing one kilo. Half of the latter will be used in the facility, while the rest can be sold.
Peder Bruce has been appointed CEO of Sande Aqua. He lives in Bergen – the city he names the "fishing capital of the world" – which has an innovative and strong professional environment. He believes this adds significant value to the planned development.
“Bergen has the Institute of Marine Research, home of Norway's only Master's Degree in aquaculture. We are building closer relationships with professors and students. The new facility will be located within an acceptable distance and create good conditions for cooperation. We have a company – Havtare AS – which works with growing and processing sugar kelp, a potential feed product. Since this project could give us full control over farmed salmon production, there is room for cooperation. We want to implement sustainable solutions with the use of modern technology, such as robots, advanced monitoring, and more. In recent years, the industry has received an influx of valuable expertise in labour from oil-related activities. Now we hope that more people from the tech community will find us interesting as well,” says Bruce.
Bruce gained most of his experience in offshore business, but also has some in finance. He is not worried about the finances of the project, even though this is a significant sum of money.
“Nothing comes for free. However, it is a fact that a well-planned prospectus gains greater interest from investors, including foreign ones with a lot of capital. For these, smaller investments are not relevant because they require approximately as much work as the large ones. And when we talk about smaller amounts in this context, it can be as much as 100 million euros,” Bruce concludes.
Sande Aqua is planning two acquisitions of capital prior to the start of construction, which is estimated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2021.