Italian oil group Eni signed a cooperation deal with Mainstream Renewable Power to develop large-scale projects around the world, as the partners announced they will bid in the new round of UK offshore wind leasing.

The companies said they would initially focus on offshore wind developments in the UK, as well as projects across Africa and Southeast Asia.

Their biggest early target will be a joint entry to the Round 4 of seabed leasing just launched by UK seabed landlord The Crown Estate, which plans to release at least 7GW of new development acreage off England and Wales.

Mainstream CEO Andy Kinsella said: “Our joint participation in the UK’s Offshore Round 4 will combine our leadership position, expertise and unrivalled track record in the global offshore wind sector, with Eni’s pre-eminence and experience in offshore energy infrastructure, its commitment to decarbonise the energy system, as well as its robust balance sheet, in what is a capital-intensive business.”

“We believe that this new partnership with Mainstream will bring additional value to our renewable business, especially in the area of offshore wind,” said Luca Cosentino, executive vice president of the energy solutions department at Eni.

The oil firm, which according to Reuters currently produces 1.9 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, is trying to establish renewables as another business pillar on a worldwide basis, targeting to install 1.6GW of new solar, wind and storage capacity by 2022, and 5GW by 2025.

The company’s ArmWind joint venture with General Electric just has been awarded a 48MW extension to a wind project in Kazakhstan in an online reverse auction, but much higher prizes can be expected in offshore wind through the cooperation with Mainstream.

Mainstream said it has previously developed to a ‘ready to build’ stage 35% of the UK’s 2020 offshore wind capacity, including the 3GW Hornsea offshore wind projects that it sold to Orsted in 2016, and the 450MW Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm in Scotland which it sold to EDF Renewables in 2018.

Mainstream is also developing the 800MW Phu Cuong Soc Trang offshore wind project in Vietnam and has prequalified for a 1GW offshore wind tender in Gujarat, India.