Time To Shine For The Subsea Sector

Posted by Andrew Bradshaw
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The global subsea industry – that sector devoted to activity from the seabed to the surface – will once again flock to Aberdeen from February 11-13 for its most prestigious gathering, Subsea Expo.

Last year, a record 6,500 visitors attended the annual exhibition and conference from 58 countries. This year, Subsea Expo will be held in Aberdeen’s new events complex, P&J Live, providing much more space than the old AECC, with potential for a far greater number of attendees.

Under the title of “New Perspectives” and now in its 15th year, Subsea Expo will champion the best Scotland has to offer as an internationally-recognised subsea centre of excellence. And while the oil and gas industry will continue to take up much of the attention, renewables and other markets will also have a major part to play.

Launching this year’s event, Subsea UK chief executive Neil Gordon suggested it was time to view the sector through a new lens – as an underwater engineering industry, serving the oil and gas, renewables, oceanology, defence and emerging areas such as aquaculture and deep-sea mining.

Key issues such as the energy transition, digital disruption and the challenges of meeting the Scottish and UK net zero carbon emissions targets of 2045 and 2050 respectively will be major talking points.

The subsea space is an exciting one to be in for two reasons.

Firstly, we’re very good at it in Scotland. Its technical complexities and demands for highly skilled delivery play to our internationally-recognised strengths in expertise and competence.

Secondly, subsea really does represent a level playing field where a host of disparate industries can come together as Mr Gordon suggested. A seabed is a seabed after all, and the skills used in the installation of an oil and gas platform or a wind turbine are generally cross-transferrable. In that sense, subsea represents an arena where the energy transition can be seen to be happening in a very real way.

However, there is also plenty of reason for optimism from subsea’s traditional oil and gas market. A report from GlobalData Energy suggests 21 oil and gas projects will start in north-west Europe in 2020 – and the UK will lead the way with 12 mainly located in North Sea shallow waters.

This year, the UK industry is also set for a resurgence in deepwater activity (that is more than 1,000ft water depth) following a dearth of new projects coming online in 2018 and 2019.

Looking at the wider global perspective, independent research company Rystad Energy has forecasted that investment in deepwater projects is the only segment of the industry that will grow above 5% (6.3%) this year. Such data is supported by the optimism generated by massive offshore finds announced recently in places such as Russia, Guyana, Cyprus and Mauritania. This means that while activity is set to pick up at home, a growing number of oil and gas projects abroad suggests there is double the reason to believe that offshore activity, and specifically subsea activity, will improve in the year ahead.

But companies will have to continue to work hard to earn that success. With forecasts suggesting the oil price will remain around the $65 to $70 mark into the middle of the decade, the days of hoping business will pick up on the back of favourable financial conditions are over. The focus has to be on what the industry can do for itself.

To be successful in a challenging market companies need to be prepared to take risks. Communications professionals are no different. We need to lead the movement and build agility into existing strategies and decision-making processes. To win in business you must have an adaptive marketing strategy that can be altered in response to changes in the industry.

Organisations that are focused on being reactive only see changes as they occur. As a result, they can’t respond quickly enough when these changes happen. Market leaders, in contrast, define and monitor the industry. They look for the early warning signals of change, identify the opportunities they present and create plans to maximise them.

Download our Five of the Future for tips on how to future proof your brand.

It’s increasingly important that your business stands out from the crowd and prepares for the future. At Fifth Ring we can help you do that. We’re fully immersed in subsea. We know who you need to connect with and how to improve sales through targeted and measurable communications campaigns. Let us solve your problems.

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