Alistair Birnie spoke to EnergyGlobal about the future of the UK subsea sector and Subsea UK’s plans to ensure it remains at the forefront around the world.
Through the UK’s subsea capability, competency and capacity, the sector has become recognised around the world. The expertise and experience gained from the pioneering days of subsea oil and gas production in the North Sea are now in global demand.
The UKCS is becoming much tougher to extend with rewards often not able to sustain costs. However, international subsea business is set to grow from US$ 40 billion to around US$ 60 billion in four years and opportunities in renewable energy are starting to become more tangible.
To sustain the UK’s subsea sector, we have to transform our exports from around US$ 4 billion at present to around US$ 10 billion.
The skills shortages have not gone away and will very shortly start to constrain growth once more. The industry as a whole has to work together to ensure new skills are developed and a pipeline of emerging talent is coming through.
The increasing need for new technology to address the challenges of global oil and gas production in deeper waters to secure energy supply, means that we must get better and quicker at bringing that technology to the market.
We must be very clear in our approach to new technology. Firstly the focus has to be on meeting real and identified operational need and secondly we must have a clear understanding of what will bring real value to build capacity and differentiate us from overseas markets.
At Subsea 2010, Subsea UK and ITF (Industry Technology Facilitator) announced a new call for proposals from companies to fast-track development of new subsea intervention technology.
Subsea Intervention, whether for construction, maintenance and production enhancement is now the only viable option for many field developments. For the first time, inspection, repair and maintenance has outgrown construction as the number one subsea expenditure for upstream production.
Improving and extending the efficiency and capability of intervention therefore plays a significant part in the lifecycle cost of subsea production.
ITF’s call for new technologies aims to stimulate high quality proposals from experts in the global development community. Open to any individual, organisation or academic institution, ITF and Subsea UK are seeking out the most innovative and best practical solution to support the industry, to deliver new and cost effective techniques for subsea intervention.