By Caspar Gajewski
Artistic rendering of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. Provided by Equinor.
The 73-acre South Brooklyn Marine Terminal will be transformed by the energy titans Equinor and bp into an operations and maintenance hub and staging area for the vast offshore wind farms they’ve been contracted to construct in the New York Bight, which will bring “over 1000 jobs to the area,” according to a company spokesperson.
Just how many more than a thousand is unclear.
Lauren Shane, senior communications manager for Equinor Wind U.S., said more than 1000. At a community meeting Equinor hosted on Feb. 28, a different company representative said the port upgrades would create 1500 short-term jobs and 500 long-term jobs. Bklyner reported “1000 short-term and 200 long-term jobs within the Sunset Park community and 5,200 jobs overall.” Mayor Eric Adams said the offshore wind industry will bring “13,000 local jobs over time,” when he announced on Jan. 13 the SBMT port transformation agreement.
The SBMT deal was finalized by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and included several provisos.
Equinor has agreed to contract with minority- and women-owned business enterprises for at least 30% of its supply chain needs. Furthermore, it will invest $5 million into an ecosystem fund that will “bring more New York City residents into offshore wind careers, propel offshore wind innovation, and support a just transition,” according to a mayoral press release. The company has stated it will work towards opening an offshore wind learning center in Sunset Park, although it is not required to do so.
Sunset Park is a diasporic, post-industrial, perennially-polluted neighborhood, peopled by Asian, Latinx and immigrant communities. Community organizations like UPROSE have for decades centered environmental justice in their fight for green-manufacturing jobs.
“This community vision of taking the industrial waterfront so that it could start building for climate adaptation, mitigation and resilience is not new,” Elizabeth Yeampierre, the executive director of UPROSE, told Bklyner. “These are victories that don’t happen overnight.”
Yeampierre would know. UPROSE lead a successful 2019 opposition campaign against Industry City’s rezoning proposal for the SBMT, which is the city’s largest industrial waterfront, that the group and others believed would accelerate gentrification, displacement and economic inequality.
The organization wanted to maintain the waterfront’s industrial identity not least because, according to a report by former New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, 11.3% of private-sector jobs in Sunset Park are manufacturing related, the highest for any community in NYC.
“We recognize everything the community has fought for,” Shane, the senior communications manager, said.
But that doesn’t guarantee Sunset Park residents jobs or local businesses contracts with Equinor’s main suppliers.
Equinor has held three supply-chain expos since its bid for the Empire and Beacon Wind projects was approved in 2022.
“Our purpose is to bring in local companies,” Shane said, but when asked if Equinor requires Vestas, its turbine supplier, and Skanska USA, its construction manager, to work locally where possible, she said, “No.”
“It’s an ongoing collaboration,” Shane said.
It’s uncertain to whom jobs and supply-chain contracts will be given, but the work will vary. Short-term jobs at SBMT will primarily include construction and staging, which is a term that describes the assembly of wind turbines.
Long-term jobs, though fewer in number, will include warehouse staff, control room operators and turbine technicians.
And those jobs will be around for the foreseeable future. “The wind farms will last at least 25 years,” Shane said.