Subsea UK News - February 2015 Issue

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SUBSEA EXPO 2015 BUMPER EDITION Total E&P Discuss Long Term R&D Scope Matchtech Examine Ageing Workforce and Engineering Skills Gap Taking the Plunge... Marriage, Underwater Subsea News and Events from Around the World


1 sub-Atlantic


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Welcome to this Edition of Subsea UK News, the First of 2015. This year looks to be a challenging one for our industry. The falling oil price remains uppermost in our minds and has resulted in an intensified scrutiny on cost and value. Optimisation is key for companies and with the appointment of Andy Samuel to oversee the Oil and Gas Authority, Sir Ian Wood’s recommendations for maximising economic recovery can begin to be implemented.

Subsea UK Subsea UK News, produced by Subsea UK, reaches over 15,000 subsea-affiliated people each issue. Subsea UK is the champion for the UK subsea industry. We act for the entire supply chain bringing together operators, contractors, suppliers and people in the industry. With some 53,000 employees, worth almost £8.9 billion in services and products and with over 750 companies, the UK subsea industry sector leads the world in experience, innovation and technology. The UK will maintain a leading technological edge by sustaining and expanding this important business sector. Whether you are a company looking to join and reap the benefits or an individual looking to develop your career in the subsea industry, explore our website or contact us to find out how Subsea UK can help you, your business and your industry. Find out more at

New Members ACE Winches


Aleron Subsea Ltd

Harris Pye Engineering

Anglo Krempel

Namaka Subsea

Arefco Special Products Ltd

North Highland College

CADE Marine Ltd


The subsea sector continues to rise to these challenges however and seek out the opportunities it brings with it. Our technology is in demand more than ever and is key to maintaining our position as world leader.

Canyon Offshore Ltd

It will be this technology and our unrivalled innovation that will be a key focus for Subsea UK this year. We will be working with members and the wider industry to use this capability to drive efficiency.

Forum Subsea Tooling & Robotics

With that in mind, in this edition we sat down with Jeremy Cutler of Total E&P to hear how the company’s focus on Research & Development has helped to unlock new fields, as well as add life to more mature fields. Looking to areas such as field monitoring (including robotics and autonomous systems) and corrosion under insulation, Total is taking a long-term and strong R&D focus to secure efficiency through technology for the future. This edition coincides with our annual exhibition and conference, Subsea Expo. Thanks to industry support, the event has now grown to become the largest subsea exhibition in Europe and this year we will welcome over 6,000 visitors including a number of overseas delegations. We anticipate our largest and most successful conference in spite of challenging times for the industry, which only demonstrates the strength and resilience of the subsea sector. As ever, I hope you enjoy this edition of our magazine and I wish you a successful year.

Neil Gordon Chief Executive, Subsea UK

CENSIS: Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems EDV (UK) Limited


Orcina Ltd Perry Slingsby Systems Ltd Pommec BV Recruitment Holdings Ltd Scrabster Harbour Trust Swagelining Limited University of Sheffield

To view the full Subsea UK members list, visit the Subsea UK Directory at

Forthcoming Events March 2015 Subsea Tieback Forum & Exhibition New Orleans, LA, USA 3-5 March 2015 Australasian Oil & Gas 2015 Perth, Australia 11-13 March 2015 NSRI – What is it? What does it do? What can it do for me? Aberdeen 25 March 2015 April 2015 Subsea North West Event AMRC, Sheffield 30 April 2015

June 2015 Subsea Malaysia at OGA Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2-4 June 2015 Subsea North East Conference and Exhibition Newcastle 11 June 2015 NSRI Lunch and Learn: An Overview of the Subsea Industry’s Needs Aberdeen 24 June 2015

These are some of Subsea UK’s events but please visit our website for full details of all forthcoming events

Subsea UK News is a magazine which invites contributions from the subsea industry, and is published by Subsea UK. The views and opinions expressed herein are not those of Subsea UK News or its owner, Subsea UK. The opinions and views expressed herein are those solely of individual contributors, and do not reflect in any way those of Subsea UK News, Subsea UK or its staff. All materials published in this magazine are published with the consent and authority of the authors. Subsea UK News makes no representations about the suitability of any information and/or services published for any purpose. Subsea UK News is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims, all liability for, any indirect, special, incidental or consequential damages (including damages for loss of business, loss of profits, litigation, or the like) of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information published within this magazine. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information in Subsea UK News, no guarantee is given that the information published is correct, complete, reliable or current, and its publication in this magazine does not constitute an endorsement by Subsea UK News.


Caley Announces Portable Intervention Work Over Control (IWOC) Deployment System Offshore handling systems specialist, Caley Ocean Systems, has announced the development of a portable IWOC deployment system designed to simplify the over boarding of Intervention Work Over Control Systems (IWOCS). It allows a single IWOC Deployment System to be readily transported between different offshore vessels. IWOCS are designed to perform testing, control and monitoring functions on a range of subsea equipment including wellheads, manifolds and gas lift modules. With growing subsea field development through tiebacks and longer distance step-outs, there is a need for more IWOCSs for flow assurance and scheduled preventative maintenance. Following Caley’s successful development of an Alternative IWOCS (AIWOCS) Deployment System in 2014, the IWOC Deployment System is the second generation of Caley’s topside handling equipment specially designed to provide access to wellheads and manifolds for intervention and workover. In addition to rapid mobilisation and portability offshore, the Caley IWOC Deployment System requires less deck space, and is safer and more operationally efficient than a conventional IWOCS reeler and sheave arrangement. Mounted on a portable skid, the IWOC Deployment System comprises two elements: the reeler/power Unit and the A-frame Unit. All operations take place within the boundary of the skid unlike a conventional IWOCS, which uses an overhead crane and therefore significant deck areas are required to be cordoned off.

The IWOC Subsea Deployment Frame and Umbilical are safely handled by the dedicated A-frame and docking unit. Equipment is fully captured during in-boarding and outboarding with minimum manual intervention, and increased protection of the equipment. The IWOC Deployment System is suitable for use in Sea State 6 conditions, enabling intervention and workover operations in a wider range of weather conditions than conventional systems.

“ The IWOC Deployment System marks a significant development in the ease with which operators will be able to use intervention and workover systems to increase field productivity, without the constraints experienced with conventional IWOCS,” said Gregor McPherson, Sales Director, Caley Ocean Systems.

A graphic showing the Caley IWOC Deployment System


Subsea UK News | February 2015


Bowtech Supply Ultra-miniature Cameras for Diverless Subsea Pipeline Repair System Bowtech Products Ltd, a global market leader in subsea vision systems, supplied miniature underwater cameras with integral LEDs to Isotek Oil And Gas Ltd for observation of a diverless subsea pipeline repair system. The L3C-400-MICRO cameras were fitted with pressure relief valves to enable safe operation in an Argon-rich subsea atmosphere. The cameras were also supplied with right angled adaptors to permit observation of the tool in operation from all angles from restricted available camera positions. The Diverless Subsea Pipeline Repair System was developed by Isotek Oil And Gas Ltd for their multinational Oil and Gas client. The Bowtech L3C-400-MICRO was chosen due to its extremely compact size for use in the limited space available within the tool. Bowtech modified the standard camera to incorporate the pressure relief valves. This is now available as an option if required by any customer.

Tom Bishop, Mechanical Design Engineer at Isotek Oil And Gas Ltd was delighted with the products and service he received:

“ Bowtech understood our need for a bespoke miniature camera with pressure relief and were helpful and professional throughout the process. The product was delivered on time, has performed well and proved to be reliable in use.”

BUSINESS CHANGE? WE CAN HELP. In challenging business conditions, every company – large or small – can be faced with difficult decisions. When it comes to re-organising, re-shaping or down-sizing, Empire can provide you with all the support and expertise to make these processes easier. Our commercially focussed and professional advisors along with our barrister-led litigation department, can help you to achieve the best results for your business - legally, financially and emotionally. We’re a phone call away and our confidential support could make all the difference. For a no obligation, confidential discussion, please contact our specialist team on 01224 701383 or request a call back by contacting us at

TECHNOLOGY EVO-Pigs in canisters

Aubin Focuses on R&D Since the introduction of offshore drilling, structures and pipework under the sea have been working hard to deliver oil and gas to our shores. However many of these structures are ageing or have been out-dated by newer technology, creating a need for these structures to be removed. Decommissioning old or expired offshore structures is a new focus for the industry, but the challenge is coming up with safe, environmentally friendly and effective ways to perform these complex operations. Aubin Group, in Aberdeenshire, are expert developers of materials technology and are focusing over 25% of their staff to research and develop solutions for the challenges facing the oil and gas industry. The product development team has created EVO-Pig, a flexible and elastic product for pigging vulnerable pipelines. Ageing pipelines ready for decommissioning must be cleaned to ensure the removal of hydrocarbons, however their weakened structure often means that they cannot be cleaned by conventional mechanical pigs. EVO-Pig offers an ingenious way to treat and clean pipelines for decommissioning without damaging or challenging the integrity of these often weakened structures. With shape-memory technology, EVO-Pig made from polymers with elastic properties can navigate bends and multibore pipelines whilst effectively cleaning scaled, telescopic or otherwise restricted pipelines. During the trial process the EVO-Pig successfully ran through 44km of a vulnerable 18” pipeline, with diameter restrictions down to 10” and even emerged with a 1.5m wooden post. This pipeline was too fragile to use a mechanical pig, and therefore another solution was needed. Careful handling, cleaning and removal of subsea structures is paramount to maintain and look after the subsea environment. New technology is essential to drive the effective decommissioning of our ageing structures.


Subsea UK News | February 2015

Kongsberg Launch Compact, Portable Acoustic Positioning System The latest addition to Kongsberg Maritime’s extensive acoustic positioning product portfolio, MicroPAP, is designed for operation from a surface vessel. It can track ROVs, tow fish, divers and any other subsea target at depths down to 4,000m. Operating in SSBL or LBL mode, MicroPAP measures the distance and direction to subsea transponders. It computes a 3D position in local or geographical coordinates. Despite being smaller and easier to install on a vessel or other surface unit than larger acoustic positioning systems, MicroPAP provides highly accurate position data. MicroPAP is a more flexible solution ideal for a diverse range of applications including: underwater construction, seabed survey, shallow water inspection, ROV operations, diving operations, marine research, shallow water seismic, ocean renewable energy and salt-to-freshwater production. MicroPAP introduces a series of advanced new transducers that feature more elements than any of its competitors in the portable and low cost market. It’s established that more elements provide better acoustic redundancy, mathematical redundancy and improvement of the signal-to-noise level. These sophisticated transducers can provide more accurate and reliable position data at depths down to 4,000m. A built-in motion sensor in the MicroPAP transducer compensates for vessel roll and pitch movements. To meet various demands from the market, the MicroPAP transducer is available in several versions featuring different built-in motion sensors and physical size. MicroPAP benefits from Cymbal digital acoustic protocol providing wideband spread spectrum acoustic positioning and data communication. Other acoustic protocols can be utilised. The system can be used as a two-way modem to transfer data between a surface user computer and one or many underwater units. The MicroPAP system Operator Station (OS) and user-interface run on a standard Laptop PC and feature the Windows© based Acoustic Positioning Operating System (APOS). A built-in comprehensive and informative online help user guide is standard and describes a wide range of functions for acoustic positioning and data communication.

“ By creating a more flexible solution for ease of installation and use, MicroPAP opens up the application of KONGSBERG’s acoustic positioning systems to a wider range of projects and customers,” comments Ed Fennell, Sales Manager, Subsea, Kongsberg Maritime Ltd. “The system can offer comparable results to larger permanently installed vessel systems whilst being lowercost and easier to deploy and operate on a vessel of opportunity.”

Because meeting the complex demands of subsea pipeline repair is essential.

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New Schoolhill Gripper Cylinders

Ronald Whyte Managing Director

Schoolhill Engineering, a small innovative engineering company in Aberdeen, have been working for the past year with OneSubsea in Houston and Aberdeen to develop two new Subsea Gripper Cylinder products for their Tree Running Tools (TRTs) and Tree Connector Mechanical Running Tools (TCMRT) for emergency intervention operations. The Gripper Cylinders are a range of special high capacity “deep water” hydraulic cylinders, containing an integrated Gripper collet arrangement, and a built-in automatic failsafe release mechanism.

For the Aberdeen team, working on a BP project, the requirement was different in that existing tooling could not provide the pull forces required to operate a different type of connector. The customer hoped to keep cost down by utilising an existing tooling package, but could not develop the pulling forces required. Space was very limited and an innovative design allowed an 8” bore cylinder fitted with an uprated gripper assembly to be installed into the space of the existing 7” bore cylinder. This provided 25% more pulling power within the existing space envelope, and allowed OneSubsea to use their existing tool frame. These are currently undergoing manufacture in Aberdeen, and a further two orders have been placed for delivery in 2015. Schoolhill have had to substantially increase output from their Aberdeen facility, to cope with increasing demand for these products, and are projecting a further 25% in 2015.

The most popular of these have been in use for several years on Spool Tree Running Tools and have proven to be very successful. These earlier tools are still in use, but a new generation of higher load capacity was required for new deep water projects around the world. Current load requirements are for 1,800,000 (1.8M) lbs of pulling force from each cylinder and an operational qualification depth of 10,000ft (3000Mtrs). These 21.5” bore cylinders are the largest Schoolhill have produced to date and were designed in conjunction with OneSubsea’s Houston tooling group. The first production order of four tools has recently been completed for Leeds.

Schoolhill managing director Ronald Whyte commented:

“ It was particularly challenging to achieve these required forces within available envelope constraints. Many of the preferred materials are right at the top of their tensile limits, yet must still maintain good impact properties for low temperature service.”

All these special tools form part of larger subsea packages and Schoolhill’s recent collaboration agreement with Francis Brown Engineering Ltd, a high spec fabrication company in Stockton.

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Caisson Integrity – Inspection Approaches & Experiences from Innospection Corrosion is a constant challenge and a substantial threat to the structural integrity of the ageing subsea assets. Eight years after Innospection’s foray into subsea inspection at the request of North Sea Operators to develop solutions for caisson inspection, the company has accumulated substantial field experience which results in the development of various deployment capabilities to meet the challenges in caisson inspection. A typical defect type in pump caissons is internal corrosion in the vicinity of the pumps and centralisers. In some cases, the detected corrosion in the circumferential location resembles perforation as well as partial cracking occurring from the corrosion loci. The considerations for caisson inspection include accessibility, defect detection requirements, marine growth cleaning, geometry changes and mapping of inspection results in a clear image of localised corrosion and remaining wall thickness. To meet the requirements, Innospection has developed advanced inspection tools capable of performing internal scanning, external scanning from the topside and external scanning with ROV deployment. For internal scanning, there is less limitation in assessing the entire caisson and the inspection can be performed above and below the sea level which translates to Examples of external and internal corrosion in caissons more inspection data. The inspection is not weather dependent and is performed by a minimum two men team. However, an internal scanning means

Various advanced inspection tools for the different deployment approaches

an interruption to the caisson operation during inspection and when the pump is removed from the pump caissons. For external scanning from topside, the inspection is usually performed from above the Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT) down to the first subsea clamp with limited inspection data at the supports. A two men team together with rope access personnel is required. Removal of marine growth at the splash zone is required to achieve proper inspection data. To ease the external deployment from topside, Innospection has developed a guidance ring to support the circumferential and axial run of the inspection tool as well as a marine growth cleaning head to be combined with tool for a parallel cleaning and inspection operation. There is no disruption to the caisson operation. External scanning with deployment of the self-crawling inspection tools by ROV is the third option. Although the inspection is typically focused on above and below the LAT, the tools can be deployed to all areas reachable by the ROV. A minimum two men team is required. This advanced deployment method could be a part of the ROV campaign and would therefore not require any direct involvement from the installation.

Online Software Unlocks Subsea Ejector Solutions Ejector solutions provider, Transvac, has announced the launch of a suite of online software for ejector sizing and screening. In a bid to make the technology more accessible to engineers across the oil & gas industry, separate programs for gas and liquid driven ejectors have been released, including a new ‘super-high compression’ range of liquid-jet ejectors, capable of gas compression ratios of up to 150:1. “It has been fascinating to see how our clients are beginning to use the online tools,” says Peter Ainge, Transvac’s Marketing Manager. “We often see clients logging in and playing with process conditions to see how an ejector will work for them - and it provides instant results, which is what everyone wants. It allows engineers to try out unlimited process scenarios without the need to engage our technical sales team until they are ready to do so.” Also known as jet-pumps or eductors, ejectors have no moving parts and no maintenance requirements, making them ideal for use subsea, offshore and in unmanned locations. Transvac ejectors are fully qualified and field proven for use subsea, successfully achieving ‘Technology Readiness Level 7’, the highest assessment level to attain. Transvac supplied the world’s first subsea processing ejector on the TORDIS project for Statoil, and also two ejectors to Petrobras’ Marlim field, which is located in Campos Basin, Brazil, at a water depth of 870m. Transvac designs ejector solutions for many applications, including boosting multiphase wells and lowering backpressure on

subsea tiebacks. Designs are supported by their dedicated team of mechanical and R&D engineers, who have completed a number of development projects to further the design technology using in-house CFD (computational fluid dynamics) backed up with full scale R&D testing. All subsea ejectors are designed, manufactured and tested inhouse, ensuring trouble-free operation when installed. “Our clients are able to access the very latest in ejector technology at the click of a mouse,” adds Gary Short, Research & Development Director. “We can move very quickly from concept, through to CFD modelling then on to full scale performance testing on our flow loops. Our new ejector performance curves can then be incorporated into our online software.” Login details to access the online software can be provided upon request to Transvac.


Severn Subsea Technologies Announces First Dual Redundancy Subsea HIPPS The Severn Glocon Group is now offering High Integrity Pressure Protection Systems (HIPPS) for oil and gas topside and subsea applications. The subsea HIPPS will be the first to combine independent electronic and mechanical systems to provide a dual redundancy, pipeline pressure protection system. Until now subsea HIPPS has been exclusively electronic, relying on pressure transducers and logic analyser voting logic to activate the two final elements, arranged in series within the pipeline, with each valve capable of independently isolating the flow when closed. However, concerns over wax deposition and hydrate formation desensitising the transducers have limited the take up of the pipeline pressure protection system. The Severn Glocon subsea HIPPS adds a mechanical HIPPS alongside the electronic HIPPS, providing a second, independent, pressure protection system. The mechanical HIPPS system is more resistant to hydrate and heavy wax build-up, and significantly less likely to be impaired by such deposits. Using the mechanical HIPPS valves in a parallel, ‘layered’ arrangement provides a second line of protection in the event of a fault with the electronic system.

Rated SIL 1 – 4, the electronic and mechanical HIPPS systems are designed and built in accordance with IEC 61508 and IEC 61511 safety instrumented systems standards. Severn Glocon’s mechanical HIPPS comprises two pairs of pressure sensors linked to two final elements, each controlled by two independent hydraulic control sub-systems.

“ Adopting the layered approach to subsea HIPPS using a mechanical HIPPS system is an elegant and simple solution to eliminating the potential risks associated with electronic HIPPS,” says Robert Walker, director, Severn Subsea Technologies. “It allows subsea HIPPS to be deployed more widely as operators seek to tieback high pressure marginal fields to existing pipeline infrastructure and topsides.” Severn Glocon’s topside electronic HIPPS system features isolation valves that can be maintained in-line, avoiding the cost and disruption of removing the valve during process maintenance. In addition, the valve design permits the pipeline to be pig inspected. Severn Glocon takes an integrated approach to HIPPS system design, assembly and test. It offers a full ‘Functional Safety Management’ service. The Group’s dedicated HIPPS facility enables Factory Acceptance Testing in a single space for system validation. “Severn Glocon’s HIPPS systems represent a new generation of HIPPS offering levels of customisation at every stage of the process from design, assembly, testing and implementation; no other company offers the complete HIPPS service,” notes Mr Walker.

Severn Subsea Technologies HIPPS schematic


Subsea UK News | February 2015

Offshore Deployment, Flexible Pipe & Cable Handling

Flowline Specialists designs, engineers and manufactures tensioners, reel drive systems, under-rollers, powered reels and shears for the global oil and gas and renewable industries.

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Fugro Saltire: Trenching and Burial System Enhanced with Cable Installation Capability Fugro Subsea Services Ltd has further enhanced the capabilities of the Fugro Saltire by installing a new cable lay spread. This enables Fugro to accurately install cables for wind farms and Oil and Gas projects prior to utilising their Q1400 trenching and burial system.

team was the installation of additional lay equipment on an already congested back deck. Fugro now provides greater operational flexibility reducing the number of vessels on site at any one time which allows them to pass on significant cost savings to clients. The cable lay spread compromises a bespoke elevated cable highway and over boarding chutes, a subsea cable quadrant, powered track tensioner, powered cable drum drive, cable level wind and associated deck winches.

Previously the Fugro Saltire had to await the completion of lay operations by another vessel before commencing or resuming trenching and burial operations. With this additional dedicated spread the Fugro Saltire can now lay and bury cables offering clients a single vessel solution to fulfil their requirements. Trenching Business Line Manager at Fugro, Mike Daniel, said: “This now allows clients more flexibility in their options for their projects.”

Left: Fugro Saltire Back Deck Pre-mobilisation of the Cable Installation Spread Right: Fugro Saltire Back Deck Post-mobilisation of the Cable Installation Spread Main: Fugro Saltire Trenching and Burying Post Cable Lay (showing the cable lay chute)

One of the greatest challenges overcome by the Fugro engineering design

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Water Way to Get Married Adventurous Couple Tie the Knot at Special Underwater Ceremony Self-confessed adrenaline junkie Dorota Bankowska and her new husband James Abbott recently tied the knot in the Underwater Centre’s 1.5million litre onshore seawater tank. The bride, a self-employed commercial diver in the oil and gas industry, who is also trained as a saturation diver, wore a traditional wedding dress and veil (weighted down for the occasion), while her husband, a teacher, wore a kilt. They were joined in the tank by bridesmaid Ala Bankowska and best man, Charlie Cran-Crombie, all four of them diving in Kirby Morgan helmets, using surface supplied diving equipment. The rings were even presented to the couple using one of the Centre’s inspection class ROVs. The Underwater Centre’s Air Diver Training Manager Ali McLeod - officiated at the ceremony, which was attended by many of the couple’s friends and family.

Dorota commented:

“ We’re both very happy to be able to complete our wedding celebrations in such a unique way; James and I don’t do things traditionally! “We’re grateful to everyone at The Underwater Centre for putting on such a special event for us; the Centre has been so supportive as I’ve advanced my career.” Dorota first trained at the Centre in 2007 as an ROV pilot technician and later as a mixed gas / saturation diver. The Underwater Centre, Fort William, is a purpose-built subsea training and trials facility and is based on the shore of a seawater loch. The Centre provides year-round training and testing in an open-water environment.

WE ARE ADVANCED Wild Well Control introduces the Advanced Engineering group: the next step in well control services. To provide fully integrated, multidisciplinary engineering design and analysis services to clients worldwide is Wild Well’s global mission. Our tools for success include a wealth of engineering experience and technology that deliver relevant, concise, and robust answers to the world’s most pressing engineering concerns. Formed to offer innovative engineering solutions while complementing our already comprehensive lineup of well control services, Wild Well Advanced Engineering provides clients with a unique combination of technical services: • • • • •

Flow assurance and thermal engineering Multiphase flow and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) Multiphysics simulations Structural and mechanical design engineering Advanced structural finite element analysis (FEA)

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Subsea Market Overview from Infield The growth of subsea investment over time has been closely associated with the movement into deeper waters across the globe. Over recent years subsea spend in ultra-deepwater areas has increased significantly; from 23% of the total global subsea market in 2010 to 46% by 2014. Going forwards, ultra-deepwater subsea spend is anticipated to increase up to 58% by 2019, with development at these depths expected to continue to be driven by projects offshore Brazil and the US Gulf of Mexico. Other key countries anticipated to demand a high level of ultradeepwater subsea spend over the forthcoming five years are likely to include the West African producers of Angola, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea with key fields including Terra (2,328 metres), Egina (1,550 metres) and Ophir’s Fortuna development at 1,691 metres. Currently, depths of 3,000 metres are seen as the maximum for subsea installations, with developments over the forecast timeframe at these outer limits expected to include the Rocksource Gulf of Mexico Corp (RGOM) Trident field; anticipated to come on-stream in 2019 with subsea infrastructure at depths of 2,953 metres. Whilst some believe 3,000 metres is the absolute maximum, and we are now seeing a flattening off of the curve towards ever deeper water depths, there have also been studies looking at installations of lines at even greater depths of 3,500 metres. It is therefore likely that these currently perceived limitations will be further stretched as operators take their search for hydrocarbon resources to ever-more challenging areas of exploration and production.

Global Subsea Capex (US$m) 2010-2019 by Water Depth (m) 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%


2011 >1499


2013 1000-1499


2015 500-999







Technip Introduces the Deep Explorer Diving Support Vessel Technip has unveiled the name for its latest newbuild Diving Support Vessel (DSV), currently being built by Vard. The state-of-the-art vessel will be known as the ‘Deep Explorer’. The high-specification vessel will be equipped with the latest technology in terms of navigation (Dynamic Positioning class 3) and will feature a 24-man saturated dive system. With her large deck area, working moonpool, work-class ROVs and a 400Te offshore crane, she will also be able to deliver diverless construction activities. Technip’s commitment to investing in the new vessel was announced in April 2014. Following the detailed engineering and design phase, construction of the ship’s hull commenced at Vard Tulcea in Romania a few months ago. On completion of the hull, the vessel will be towed to Vard Langsten in Norway for final equipment outfitting and commissioning. She is scheduled to join the Technip fleet in 2016.


Subsea UK News | February 2015

Purpose-designed for the demanding requirements of the North Sea and Canadian markets, the Deep Explorer will be capable of working in extreme weather conditions. Her potential area of operations remains global.

Bill Morrice, managing director of Technip’s UK operating centre, said: “Technip has a long history in the diving

industry and we are very pleased to extend our longterm commitment to diving and to the oil and gas industry with the development of this important new vessel. At delivery, the Deep Explorer will be the most advanced DSV in the world.”


Proserv Secures Significant Contract with Hess Corporation Global-leading energy services company Proserv has secured a major contract win worth in excess of $20 million, underpinning the company’s fast-evolving international footprint and market-leading status in the subsea arena. This latest award by Hess Corporation is for the provision of a 12-well subsea control system along with associated topside and subsea interface equipment for the deepwater Stampede development, situated in the Gulf of Mexico. Work for the project will be carried out in various Proserv subsea service centres and technology hubs around the world, reinforcing the company’s strong inter-regional capability. The design and manufacture of the subsea electronics modules (SEMs) and subsea control modules (SCMs) will be carried out by Proserv’s team of subsea experts in Great Yarmouth, UK, with Proserv’s Trondheim facility in Norway providing technical support. Final testing, servicing and the integration of equipment will be carried out at Proserv’s new dedicated controls facility in Houston, USA. The systems will be delivered to the client in a phased approach throughout 2015 and 2016 in line with key project milestones. Proserv has a long-standing relationship with Hess Corporation and over the past three years has secured work with the operator which, including this latest award, is estimated to be worth around $35 million. These activities included providing subsea controls equipment and services for

Hess Corporation’s Tubular Bells field, a fast-track project that has just announced first production, and Hess GoM brownfield projects.

David Lamont, Proserv CEO, said: “This

is a significant win for the company that highlights the strength of our technical and engineering expertise as well as our market-leading status in the subsea controls and communications field.

“Proserv has already worked with Hess Corporation on several projects and the award of this contract is testament to the strength of our relationship and their trust in our ability to deliver robust technology solutions and services on time and to the highest standards. We look forward to working with Hess Corporation in the successful delivery of this project and would also like to congratulate them on the expeditious production of first oil from the Tubular Bells development.”

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Innospection Ltd, Unit 1, Howemoss Avenue, Kirkhill Industrial Estate, Dyce, AB21 0GP, Aberdeen, United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0)1224 724744 Email:


The Underwater Centre Celebrates 40 Years of Service to the Subsea Industry One of the world’s leading providers of commercial divers for the global oil and gas sector is this year celebrating a milestone birthday as it turns 40. The Underwater Centre in Fort William, on the west coast of Scotland, has experienced the highs and lows of a sector that for almost half a century has been pivotal to the UK economy, growing and developing alongside the burgeoning industry and responding to its changing needs, particularly as awareness of health and safety increased over the years.

decreased,” said Steve. “However, The Underwater Centre continued to invest in facilities, introducing underwater inspection training and installing a replica oil platform leg at the Centre’s dive site, which offered realistic training and aimed to ensure that students were properly prepared for work in subsea environments.”

The long and illustrious history of the Centre began in 1974, when Underwater Trials Limited officially opened its doors as a subsea trials and testing facility. Due to its unique location on the shore of Loch Linnhe, with access to depths of up to 150m, the site was ideal for providing realistic, open-water trials.

In 1996, the Centre expanded to encompass its sister operation in Tasmania, which was created to address the demand for commercial diver training in the South East Pacific region and offered commercial diver training to the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme standard.

Still in its infancy, the oil and gas industry was not the highly regulated environment it is today in terms of health and safety.

Towards the end of the 90s, as the price of a barrel of oil began to recover, investment in the Centre continued with the addition of an accommodation complex, so students can train, work and live on the one site for the first time, allowing greater interaction between the subsea disciplines.

General Manager Steve Ham said:

“ It was becoming apparent that there was a need for greater safety and competency levels and, just months after opening its doors and with support from the UK government, the Underwater Training Centre was launched, making it one of the first in the world to introduce Commercial Air Diver training. “Mixed Gas Closed Bell Diver training followed close behind, with divers carrying out dives to 100msw, using bounce dives and saturation techniques.” The next decade was one of investment in training and health and safety development, as new HSE Diving at Work Regulations were introduced. However, the following years saw the oil industry enter a steady state of decline. “The price of a barrel of oil plummeted to an all-time low of just $13 a barrel and investment in the industry was greatly

Meanwhile a new diver medic course, developed alongside renowned diving medicine expert Dr Phillip James, received IMCA accreditation, and Mixed Gas Closed Bell diver training was reintroduced in Fort William and introduced in Tasmania. As the subsea industry saw an increased use in ROV technology, the Centre also introduced ROV Pilot Technician training to help meet the demand for ROV operatives. The past decade has been one of significant change for the Centre, which was taken over by The Crannog Concept Ltd in 2004. As investment in the oil and gas industry and the price of oil soared, so too did investment in training. In response to increased worldwide demand for skilled personnel, and with help from a number of companies - as well as the UK diving industry and government schemes such as Skills Development Scotland - the Centre developed a range of industry-specific courses aimed at producing competently trained divers and ROV pilot technicians.

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Today, The Underwater Centre is busier than ever, and plans are in place to continue its collaboration with industry, specifically with regards to the development of closed bell diver training and ROV pilot technician training. The Centre is also increasingly busy providing support to companies testing new subsea technology. General Manager Steve Ham said:

“ The past 40 years have been all about working hand in hand with industry, and that is very much in our plans for the future.


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“For me it is all about understanding what the industry needs (in terms of subsea training and testing services) and working with the various parts of the industry to be able to deliver those needs as cost effectively as possible. Sometimes that takes investment but often it is more about collaboration on ideas or technical help. The recent Wood Report identified that greater collaboration in general in the supply chain is needed and that is already a key part of the way we work. “By continuing to work with our industry partners across the world we believe we will continue to improve and grow the services we offer, contributing our part in making the supply chain more cost effective.”

“A truly dynamic, diverse & innovative, engineering service company.� Engineering, design, fabrication and project services to clients in Oil & Gas, Nuclear, Utilities & Renewable Sectors. Our high quality and high value service helps us build lasting, personal partnerships with customers who understand the importance of quality, safety and reliability.

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Magma Global and Maritime Developments Link Up to Boost Well Intervention Project Reliability and Profitability High performance pipeline manufacturer Magma Global has entered into a partnership with backdeck services specialist Maritime Developments to develop a unique well intervention solution. This expert partnership aims to meet key common challenges in the well intervention sector by speeding up pipe deployment, reducing project risk and maximising operator return on investment. The joint venture delivers a complete back-deck package for deployment and retrieval of Magma Global’s unique m-pipe® highstrength composite pipe product. m-pipe® is a carbon fibre pipe manufactured using a high-end oilfield polymer resulting in significantly better high pressure high temperature (HPHT) and sour service capability than traditional steel-based products in deep-water applications. m-pipe® is a very high strength pipe with excellent resistance to hydrocarbons and all stimulation fluids types. It has a smooth bore to maximise flow, allowing higher fluid flow rates and pressures to be achieved in well intervention operations. Complementing m-pipe®’s unique flexible and lightweight design, Maritime Developments is providing a complete deployment and retrieval package, including a bespoke compact vertical lay system (CVLS) with a built-in reel, to keep deployment vessel size down and minimise back-deck footprint. Stephen Hatton, technical director of Magma Global, said: “m-pipe® directly addresses ongoing challenges faced by oil and gas operators, including the need to maximise production from existing fields through more effective light well intervention.

“ Our ongoing partnership with Maritime Developments facilitates a marked improvement in current intervention capabilities, combining a high specification pipe with a proven subsea delivery system. Maritime Developments’ system allows m-pipe® to be deployed in a highly efficient and safe manner as a full back-deck solution, with more rapid pipe spooling, deployment and retrieval.” “m-pipe® is low weight – it’s around 10 times lighter in water than steel pipe equivalent – also enables the use of smaller deployment vessels, a key benefit in well intervention. “As part of Magma’s partnership with Maritime Developments, we can deliver a full package that offers intervention line rental or sales, or a combination of both, together with full after-sales support for the operators, depending on their individual needs.” Derek Smith, chief executive of Maritime Developments said: “This new partnership is allowing us to build on our established track record in the provision of forward-thinking back-deck solutions, by delivering an operator-friendly and cost-effective solution in our specialist field. “Our bespoke design for Magma Global optimises the functionality of the m-pipe® by using our proven equipment, packaged in a way that will deliver the most efficient footprint for handling the product.”

Subsea UK News | February 2015



STATS Group Isolates Forties Pipeline STATS Group were contracted by Apache North Sea Ltd to safely isolate the Forties Pipeline System (FPS) so that subsea isolation valves (SSIV) and piping spools could be safely installed and leak tested, avoiding the need to depressurise the entire pipeline system. The 36” main crude oil line is a pre-eminent pipeline network in the North Sea carrying 40% of the UK’s oil, with over 50 offshore assets flowing into the 169km FPS, which runs from Forties Charlie platform to Cruden Bay terminal, transporting approximately 700,000 barrels of oil per day. STATS provided two remotely controlled Tecno Plugs™, the first offering proven double block isolation from pipeline pressure, with the second Tecno Plug™ providing a local leak test boundary. The two-plug method maintains a safe isolation and provides a leak test boundary which prevents pressurising the entire pipeline up to leak test pressure. A detailed engineering and piggability assessment confirmed the fitness-for-purpose of the Tecno Plug™ and identified a suitable set-location for the isolation plugs. An expert isolation committee from a subsea engineering and construction company assessed the suitability of the high pressure remote isolation plug as a double block barrier for diver breaking containment activities. The Tecno Plugs™ were deployed and pigged in a train with two bi-directional batching pigs positioned ahead of the plugs. The complete plug train was pigged to the setlocation using inhibited seawater to ensure the section of pipeline being removed was fully de-oiled, prior to breaking of containment preventing any oil release into the environment. With the Tecno Plug™ accurately positioned, it was hydraulically set to activate the locks and dual seals. Precise positioning and accurate tracking was provided by means of an assured subsea extremely low frequency (ELF) control system. This system provides continuous monitoring throughout the isolation. The second Tecno Plug™ was at location but was not hydraulically set until the construction scope was completed. Independent testing of each seal with full pipeline pressure confirmed leak-tight isolation and the pipeline was bled down to subsea ambient from the platform launcher to the rear of the Tecno Plug™. The annulus between the Tecno Plug™ seals was vented to ambient to create a zero-energy zone. After an eight hour isolation stability hold period, an ‘Isolation Certificate’ was signed and the Tecno Plug™ was confirmed as providing double block isolation of the Forties Pipeline,

allowing the subsea construction phase to commence. Two pipeline spool pieces were safely removed to allow the installation of the two metrology spools required to tie-in the pre-installed SSIV arrangement to the pipeline and the Forties Charlie platform. With subsea construction completed, the newly made-up flange joints were locally leak-tested at each gasket to provide initial confirmation of the joint integrity. This allowed the pipeline pressure to be equalised behind the isolating Tecno Plug™ and the seals and locks were actively unset. The rear Tecno Plug™ was remotely operated to hydraulically set the seals and locks; once the barrier was proven, a successful re-instatement leak test of the newly installed SSIV was then conducted by raising the pipeline pressure from the platform launcher to 158 bar against the leak test Tecno Plug™. The leak test Tecno Plug™ was then unset and the pipeline pressure equalised, allowing the plug train to be pigged through the newly installed SSIV back to the launcher on the Forties Charlie platform for recovery.

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Stork Delivers Cathodic Protection Solutions for Global Subsea Challenges Cathodic Protection (CP) plays a vital role in the integrity and maintenance of subsea pipelines and structures. Stork has more than 30 years’ experience in CP and is the Asset Integrity Partner to the Global Oil & Gas, Chemical and Power industries. All metals corrode when exposed to sea water and CP systems and surveys provide a means of managing corrosion. CP is a proven, costeffective and efficient corrosion mitigation solution, which is central to the integrity of all subsea infrastructures. Evaluating CP system performance ensures assets are protected from external corrosion and enables the collection of data and planning of remedial works over asset lifetime. This is often a period of more than 30 years.

in different countries and the utilisation of a number of expert techniques and technologies to capture 100% coverage and data. Another complex project, which took place in the Dutch sector in a shallow but dense area of marine traffic, was carried out using Stork’s CP Trace system, allowing the team to survey the pipeline without disruption to other vessels. As a result of these successes, the company was able to expand its team of CP Field Engineers and has already provided new recruits with an internationally recognised NACE qualification.

In 2014, Stork’s CP team completed over 2,300 days offshore, in locations across the globe. This included the company’s latest CP project in China, which took three months to complete, as well as a number of projects for its established client base in Europe and Africa. The team also delivered a number of technically challenging survey workscopes in deep, fast flowing and less salty environments. The work was completed without incident and Stork’s CP division has remained Lost Time Incident (LTI) free for over five years. One key project involved the survey of lengths of onshore buried pipeline, as part of several onshore work scopes and one main offshore scope. This end to end project required multiple mobilisations

Stork’s CP probe ready for mobilisation

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X-Subsea Delivers on Cost-effective Seabed Intervention X-Subsea, the world’s leading provider in precision dredging and excavation, has successfully responded to clients’ requests for cost effective seabed intervention solutions. Working on a consultative basis, X-Subsea operates the world’s largest fleet of patented controlled flow excavation and precision dredging equipment, and utilises a diverse range of seabed solutions to ensure that the most suitable technology and the ideal tool is being applied to the task.

Where different seabed intervention tooling is required to make the overall workscope most efficient, a single team and topside spread can be utilised, and the “workface” tool can be changed out to suit the different phases of the workscope, thus reducing POB, equipment rental and transport costs. During a de-commissioning campaign in 2014, X-Subsea combined the use of its patented T8000 controlled flow excavator and X-Subsea’s Scandredge tool to excavate jacket legs by moving substantial amounts of loose seabed, to provide access with ROV and diamond wire cutting equipment. Later in the project, final cuts were made and structure itself removed. As the volumes were much reduced, the remedial dredging could be carried out more effectively with the ScanROVdredge resulting in a more cost effective solution. However, it used combinations of the same team members and carried experience and knowledge transfer through the entire project duration. This project was extremely successful due to the right tools being selected for each phase of the project, continued experience throughout the campaigns and through multiple redundancy of equipment spreads through interchangeable components parts.

Subsea UK News | February 2015



Project director Gordon Drummond summarises what is in store for NSRI in the coming months

Having got my feet well and truly under the desk, so to speak, within the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC), I am looking forward to delivering NSRI’s objectives in 2015 and relishing the challenge of ensuring a much more cohesive, streamlined approach towards effective development of the new technology required by the UK’s subsea industry.

on the seabed, the demands of science around technologies for challenging, hostile environments between underwater and outer space are similar and there is much to be gained by collaborating on such an exciting initiative.

Ultimately, we aim to secure the UK’s world-leading position in subsea through the development and roll-out of new technology which will sustain the North Sea and be exported globally.

Unlike other such technology organisations, NSRI is differentiated by its industry experts: household names in subsea who will ensure that our research and development activities are focused on solving real, identified challenges. Through systematic identification of future specific industry needs and informed engineering evaluation of current capability against such aspirations, gaps in technology are being identified. Collaborative, specialist academic and industrial project teams will be formed, and development will be directed to meet the highlighted deficiencies laid out by the subject matter expert on a technology road map to be driven by our technology champions. These champions will be drawn from the NSRI board which comprises industry leading figures with a wealth of experience in the subsea sector.

As the focal point for the co-ordination of research and development activities across the country’s subsea oil and gas sector, NSRI will provide a direct link between the subsea community and academia as well as government. One of the initiatives we are currently exploring is with the UK’s youngest university – University of the Highlands & Islands. UHI is teaming up with a consortium of best-in-class US academic institutes to deliver focused degree programmes which are industry specific. Staying in the Highlands, we have also entered into discussions with Highlands & Islands Enterprise about how we can best use and promote the synergies between NASA and subsea to help the region secure the UK’s first spaceport. The Government’s ambition is for a UK spaceport to open in 2018, providing a focus for regional and international investment for growth and establishing the UK as a leader in the space market. With subsea often referred to as NASA but


Subsea UK News | February 2015

But back to earth for the immediate future, when NSRI will take a major leap forward by announcing its key themes and technology champions at Subsea Expo.

I hope to meet as many subsea companies as possible during Subsea Expo and look forward to working with you to coordinate and facilitate the development of the next wave of technologies which will help maintain the UK’s world-leading position in subsea.

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The North Sea has long been regarded as a test bed for subsea innovation, with expertise and equipment in demand across the globe. As remaining oil and gas reserves become harder to both discover and recover, companies are increasingly looking at the role technology can play in extending the life of mature fields. Total E&P UK has taken a technology-focused approach to its exploration and production activities, enabling the firm to extend production across its assets. One of the largest operators in the UKCS in terms of both production and reserves, Total E&P UK operates eight fields in the Northern North Sea including several sub-sea tie backs and the HPHT Elgin-Franklin fields in the Central North Sea. Managing director Philippe Guys explained:

“ Total has a proud track record of being an early adopter of new technology, such as High Pressure /High Temperature and electronic trace heating in flowlines, and we are working to maintain that reputation. “We are building on decades of experience in the region and utilising our strong global R&D resources to create a Technology Plan which we hope will enable Total to assess the usability of future technologies, thereby guaranteeing our position as a safe and efficient operator as well as an innovator in small developments. “We have been operating in the UKCS for 30 years and the application of new technology has been at the core of our activity. Total has taken a bold approach to the deployment of technology with a view to boosting recovery rates and as we move into challenging times for the sector, this will become increasingly important.

“The oil and gas industry is typically risk averse and focused on short term gain; Total is taking a long term view and looking to a future where innovation and the adoption of new technology will play a vital role.” “Things are moving on in the North Sea,” said Jeremy Cutler, head of innovation and technology at Total E&P UK. “There’s a recognition that technology is one of the areas that can help us as an industry maximise economic recovery and achieve those goals. We see the technology landscape being better defined than before thanks to bodies including the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre, the Technology Leadership Board and the Industry Technology Facilitator.” Total undertook a technology roadmap, interviewing 36 different people across its assets in order to establish what their technology needs were. These were prioritised accordingly and are being fed back to the Technology Leadership Board to define some of the company’s main needs. “This roadmap has presented interesting areas that we will look to develop, particularly field monitoring including robotics and autonomous systems as well as corrosion under insulation,” said Cutler. “It is a world issue, given that we don’t yet have a guaranteed mechanism for identifying it; the fool proof way of solving corrosion under insulation from an inspection point of view is literally stripping off the insulation and examining underneath it. There are various non-intrusive techniques, but none are proven and indeed a recent initiative uses sniffer dogs to identify corrosion products in the laboratory.

Total E&P Adding Life to Mature Fields


“We are starting to ask ourselves if we must return to basics. Using sniffer dogs as an example, is there something at a molecular level that we need to be looking at? Should we be looking for a molecule rather than taking it to the more established techniques such as ultrasound. “Alongside the smart field work – autonomous vehicles for example – we are very focused on drilling and improving the deliverability of the well. We are working with a company in Hungary that uses laser power to remove scale and we see that as an interesting technology that could be useful not only in bringing a well back into production, but also in field abandonment and decommissioning.” Cutler agrees with the belief that the oil and gas industry has not been sufficiently well organised when it comes to accessing funding and has not collaborated effectively, but concedes that this is changing. He points to Innovate UK and OGIC and the funding being made available to the oil and gas industry, but points out that it is yet to be trialled on a large scale. “OGIC will inevitably be inundated with proposals for projects and will have to find a way to rank and manage these. This will take a while but I think the money is there if we need it.” As to why industry has now recognised the need for a cohesive approach, Cutler points to the change in landscape. “We no longer just have one or two big fields that operators can manage alone. The average discovery is now 25 million barrels of oil equivalent and 90% of fields produce less than 15,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. You also have many smaller operators supporting legacy infrastructure operated by the majors. Everyone has to work together as we are sharing infrastructure to share the costs. “To a large extent we will have to see how the new oil and gas regulator polices and supports this collaboration.” Total recognises the importance their workforce plays in its success.

“It is the people who drive us,” explained Guys. “As an affiliate of a larger group, we have a considerable amount of expertise to draw upon. Pau is our centre of excellence for R&D work while our Aberdeen-based Geoscience Research Centre is one of the most technologically advanced centres of applied research in the world. “There is a very strong technology focus within Total and we have streamlined our R&D work from 28 programmes into eight; we have the same number of people but have recognised that the R&D function needs to be given more prominence within the company.” When it comes to the future of the North Sea, Cutler believes that it will be the region’s strong engineering heritage and unparalleled skill set that will serve Aberdeen well. Jeremy Cutler head of innovation and technology at Total E&P UK commented:

“ As the North Sea dwindles, we have organisations here with people who can hopefully supply the world market with capabilities and technology. “We have the infrastructure here through a strong supply chain, two world-leading universities and the ability to export our expertise globally. Being able to manage it from here is key. “Total has a long history of developing technology for application in the field. This bold approach has seen us push the boundaries in E&P work and has positioned us to be able to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”






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AIS Shortlisted for Prestigious Queen’s Award Leading offshore and renewables expert, Advanced Industrial Solutions (AIS), has been shortlisted for a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Widely acknowledged as the UK’s most prestigious business accolade, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are designed to recognise and encourage the achievements of businesses across the UK. AIS has been shortlisted in the Innovation category for its forwardthinking and fresh approach to business. AIS Technical designs, manufactures and installs an award-winning range of insulation jacketing systems – which use materials developed by NASA to provide world-leading thermal, acoustic and passive fire protection (PFP) solutions. It also delivers skills and competency testing for the global energy sector from its 150,000 sq ft world-class training complex on North Tyneside. In the past 12 months, AIS Training has invested more than £5million in state-of-the-art facilities such as a sea survival centre, onsite hotel and renewable energy campus to create a world-class skills centre endorsed by key industry bodies such as the Global Wind Organisation, OPITO and IRATA.

Paul Stonebanks, Managing Director

The company’s success is demonstrated by a 105% increase in turnover and 58 new jobs created in 2014 alone.

Managing Director Paul Stonebanks said: “It

is a huge honour to be shortlisted for the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. The spirit of innovation is at the heart of AIS and we are highly focused on delivering the highest quality and most effective solutions to our global customers. To be rewarded and recognised for this approach at the highest levels of business is extremely flattering. It is also testament to our extremely talented and hard-working team who have helped make AIS the phenomenal success story it is today. We are now looking forward to the winners being announced in April 2015.”

Royal IHC’s Hi-Traq Wins Prestigious Award for Engineering Excellence At the British Engineering Excellence Awards in London in October 2014 Royal IHC’s Hi-Traq trenching machine and tooling platform won the award for ‘Mechanical Engineering Product of the Year’. Hi-Traq is the first 4-tracked subsea vehicle with fully independent suspension and steering. This gives unrivalled maneuverability and ability to cope with the full range of shallow-water terrain. The vehicle was originally conceived as a dedicated trencher for cable burial in offshore windfarms but is also being developed as a multi-purpose tooling platform for a wide variety of subsea installation, IRM and decommissioning works.

Ralph Manchester, Chief Engineer for Subsea Vehicles at Royal IHC’s UK subsidiary - IHC Engineering Business (IHC EB), commenting on the award said:

“We are enormously proud of the Hi-Traq project; in testing our development machine has proved that the technology works and we look forward to seeing the vehicle in operation.” The project was internally funded by Royal IHC with support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Charlotte Pugh, Hi-Traq Project Manager at IHC EB, said at the awards ceremony that “the design and build of Hi-Traq was a real team effort; everyone involved will take great satisfaction from this fantastic award”. For IHC EB, this award follows on from winning the BEEA ‘Design Team of the Year’ in 2011 for the Saipem FDS 2 J-lay system. The equipment is one of the offshore industry’s most versatile pipelay systems, capable of installing large diameter subsea pipelines in water depths of up to 3,000m. Winning these awards is a major accomplishment for both the business and every employee; working together to achieve something great, the future for this Northumberland based business has never been more exciting.


Subsea UK News | February 2015


OMS Celebrates Queen’s Award and Opening of New Premises Oil & gas pipe measurement specialist Optical Metrology Services (OMS) was honoured to welcome HM Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, The Countess of Verulam, to the company’s official open day and Queen’s Award presentation on 27th November 2014. The open day was attended by more than 70 guests that included OMS employees, contractors and customers. On arriving at OMS’ new premises at the M11 Business Link in Stansted, The Countess of Verulam was given a guided tour of the facilities. Guests enjoyed a champagne reception before congregating outside the front of the building, with The Queen’s Award flag proudly on display. The Countess of Verulam then presented The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Innovation 2014 to Denise Smiles, CEO of OMS, before cutting the ribbon to mark the official opening of the company’s new premises. In her speech to guests, The Countess of Verulam praised OMS and its staff for their outstanding efforts over the last few years. She recalled: “When I visited OMS’ offices in Bishops Stortford back in 2007 to present the company with its first Queen’s Award for Enterprise, the business was much

smaller with fewer than 10 employees. The transformation of this business over the last seven years has been truly remarkable. Not only is the business continuing to grow very rapidly, but to win a Queen’s Award for the second time is a tremendous achievement.”

Denise Smiles, CEO at OMS, then echoed The Countess’ thoughts:

“ Everyone at OMS is honoured to receive this Award and I would personally like to thank every single OMS employee for their hard work and dedication over the last seven years. The continued success of this business is down to your individual and collective efforts.”

The Countess of Verulam opening OMS’ new premises

The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is the UK’s most prestigious Award for business performance, recognising and rewarding outstanding achievement by UK companies. The Innovation category is for continuous innovation and development, sustained over not less than five years to levels that are outstanding for the size of a company’s operations. OMS received a Queen’s Award for Innovation for its SmartFit™ service, a system for managing pipe preparation and fit-up in readiness for welding prior to pipelaying. This is the second time that OMS has received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise Innovation, the first being in 2007.

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Historic WWII Landing Craft Salvaged with Seaflex Unique Seaflex (Seaflex), a division of Unique Maritime Group, is delighted to report its key involvement in the re-floating of the only surviving landing craft from D-Day 1944. Working in conjunction with Salvesen UK, Seaflex deployed 230t of buoyancy from its office in The Isle of Wight to the operation in Birkenhead Docks Liverpool. The project to lift and save LCT 7074 began in March 2014. The vessel came out of service at the end of WWII after numerous successful deployments to the Normandy beaches; she was converted to a naval repair facility for a short while, then became a floating nightclub, and was berthed in Liverpool from around 1950. Salvesen UK were engaged by Comet Technical Services on behalf of the National Museum of the Royal Navy to conduct a dive survey and some NDT inspection of the vessel during March, the result of which was that the hull was deemed in good enough condition to attempt the refloat. After three weeks of diving to clean the vessel and prepare her for internal diving operations, the landing craft was ready to be refloated. Although for salvage operations parachute-style air lift bags are generally preferred, this was one of those jobs where a combination of the relatively shallow depths and the need to squeeze buoyancy into tight spaces meant that enclosed units fitted with pressure release valves were the ideal solution. A significant number of such enclosed units and lift bags are held by Unique Seaflex within their rental pool. Salvesen began by installing 18 x 5t single-connection vertical Unique Seaflex Mono Buoyancy Units into the wing tanks. They then burnt holes either side of the vertical frames in the wing tank bulkheads to secure a further 20 x 5 ton MBUs. As these units would break the


Subsea UK News | February 2015

surface before the vessel was fully afloat, the full lift potential of 190t would not be achieved, but it would be supplemented by 8 x 5 ton multiple-connection horizontal Inflatable Buoyancy Units in the main engine room. They then successfully tunnelled under the vessel’s approximate 10m beam, creating a 1.5 square metre aperture to allow 2 x 100t soft slings to be inserted; these were then restrained and connected to two spreader beams. A floating crane was then mobilised to assist with the lift, initially loaded to 50 tons. The lifting bags were then inflated sequentially so as to provide a stable and as controlled lift as possible with the stresses on the vessel being monitored throughout by digital strain gauges at various locations on the hull. With all the bags inflated, the load on the crane was increased at 5 ton increments, and at 105 tons on the crane the vessel slowly began to rise from the seabed. After the tank deck level was reached, approximately 400,000 litres of water was pumped out and the vessel was successfully refloated. All the salvage equipment was then removed from the hull and final preparations made for her transfer to Portsmouth Naval Base for restoration.


North-east Firm Becomes First to Adopt New Safety Process A leading North-east marine equipment specialist has become one of the first companies to adopt a new safety scheme, following a six-figure investment after another successful year of business. Motive Offshore, which is headquartered in Boyndie, near Banff, in Aberdeenshire, has implemented a new safety and lean production scheme, called 6S, to improve efficiency and safety in the work environment.

PSL Innovation Lights the Way for Deeper Subsea Operations The team behind an award-winning patented fibre lighting system is extending its reach as it responds to the growing challenges of the subsea industry. PhotoSynergy Ltd (PSL) is working with North Sea operators to better understand and address the issue of working at everincreasing depths by adapting its LIGHTPATH technology, allowing it to be used to depths of 3,000m. PSL has responded by developing the new SLS7000, a more robust, pressure-tested system capable of being used at much greater depths.

The firm, which was established in 2010 by James Gregg, Dave Acton and Bob Smit, will utilise the Japanese developed lean manufacturing process to improve standard operational practices and ensure efficient and safe ways of working.

Four key areas where LIGHTPATH could be used to illuminate operation areas have been identified by industry, including the orientation of pipe systems during installation, the faster identification of specific work site location, tool basket location and in cases where seabed mat systems, such as the Dechamps MobiMat, are used on the seabed.

The 6S programme comprises of six different phases including: sort, straighten, sweep, standardise, sustain and the new element safety, which is currently being deployed across the company’s three bases in Boyndie, Aberdeen and Stavanger in Norway, through comprehensive training for employees.

PSL Director Don Walker said it was expected that by using the newly developed SLS7000 unit, there would be improved on-site productivity of seabed operations. Recent trials had shown that the unit operates very effectively with both work-class ROVs and observation ROVs.

Chief Operating Officer of Motive Offshore, Dave Acton said: “As a company, we have grown significantly in the last four years, and as such it has been vital to promote and develop a strong safety culture to protect the welfare of our employees and clients. We have been very focused on helping our employees to work responsibly and in the safest possible manner, and the 6S programme will play a key role in this.

“ As the industry in the North Sea moves to maximise recovery from existing and previously marginal wells, the significance for operational access to subsea assets becomes key,” Don said.

“The process will essentially assist our employees to think more seriously about safety and about the steps they take when working in the factory. The process will allow us to develop new practices that add value and help to standardise our work process to reduce risk for employees.

“ Since day one we have been focused on our people and as we continue to expand and employ more, lean techniques like 6S will be key to our continuous improvement efforts and overall infrastructure to deliver clients the best possible service whilst working towards being a company recognised for its safety standards.”

“The demands to link existing seabed infrastructure to exploit these new assets places a new challenge on subsea technology to supply a cost effective solution for installation, repair and maintenance. As this work is increasingly beyond the operational depth of saturation divers the demands fall on sophisticated work-class ROVs to achieve rapid and efficient subsea operations. “This is where LIGHTPATH can play a role in improving ROV effectiveness on task utilisation.” PSL was awarded Subsea UK’s Innovation for Safety Award last February for its LIGHTPATH fibre lighting concept utilised in saturation excursion umbilicals. It also allows ROV pilots to be more aware of the route of the umbilical, minimising the risk of collision and helping to detect dive umbilicals which may have become snagged.

Dave Acton

Motive Offshore, which specialises in the manufacturing and rental of high capacity winches, umbilical deployment equipment and specialised subsea equipment including subsea winches and baskets, has grown rapidly since launching less than four years ago and now has over 100 employees. The firm has future plans for additional staff and further investment in rental equipment, which will be showcased at Subsea Expo in 2015.

The SLS5000 illuminates the fibre which can be used for a wide range of applications, from guide path illumination through to the extremes of challenging, hazardous and submerged environments.

Fibre being used to illuminate hydraulic hoses on trial at The Underwater Centre and a pic of SLS7000

Subsea UK News | February 2015



Namaka Subsea Assist with IMCA Membership Aberdeen-based Namaka Subsea have recently assisted Global Energy Group’s newly developed diving division Global Diving, through the process of achieving membership as an International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) Offshore Diving Contractor. Global Diving, who already provide diving services to clients throughout the globe, can now deliver air and nitrox diving services to the offshore oil and gas industry within the UK and overseas. This brings them in line with the requirements of IMCA D014 International Approved Code of Practice for Offshore Diving Operations. Namaka Subsea provided support to Global Diving throughout the development of the new division and subsequent award of IMCA Offshore Diving Contractor membership. This included auditing the company Business Management System (BMS) in support of diving operations and providing recommendations. The audit ensured that the company has the capacity and capability in terms of its systems and controls in place to carry out diving operations as per current industry best practice. Furthermore, to assist with the company’s equipment certification, planned maintenance and asset management, Global Diving purchased DiveCert which is a software

package developed by Namaka Subsea. DiveCert has been designed for the diving industry to ensure testing and maintenance of diving equipment can be carried out to comply with IMCA guidance and global diving standards.

Global Diving’s Offshore Diving Manager, Alan Melia, said:

“ To help Global Diving comply with IMCA requirements for tracking certification we invested in DiveCert and have successfully incorporated this into our system. “In addition Namaka Subsea also carried out an independent pre IMCA audit on our processes which provided a gap analysis and ensured any recommendations were implemented prior to the IMCA membership audit. With this in place

Sandy Harper, Managing Director of Namaka Subsea (left) and Alan Melia, Offshore Diving Manager of Global Diving (right)

Global Diving was in a more comfortable and confident position for the audit.” Sandy Harper, Managing Director of Namaka Subsea, added: “We are delighted to have assisted Global Diving in achieving their IMCA Offshore Diving Contractor membership. It is a tremendous achievement and it is clear from their level of determination and commitment that they intend to become well established within the industry as an offshore diving contractor.”

North-east Specialist Project Management and Subsea Announces New Division A leading North-east project services, engineering and consultancy firm has expanded its business with the introduction of a new service to audit clients’ diving resources. Aberdeen based CSL, located at Geo House on Commerce Street, has launched CSL Dive Audit Services in line with the firm’s five year growth strategy. CSL, which was established in 2000, has invested a great deal into expanding its team and core services in the last year with the introduction of new divisions including: technical consulting, subsea support services, resources and training. The dive audit service offers a fully rounded audit of dive processes, procedures, operations and systems which is then reported and presented to the client through a project managed service and from there the recommended changes can be implemented. The service also includes assistance with IMCA certification, review of current dive operations, implementation of revised processes, procedures and operations and the secondment of dive technical authorities onto projects and operations. The new service will be headed by Project Services Manager for CSL, Sarah Hutcheon. She said: “This new service was introduced


as a progression of CSL’s commitment to recognising the demands within the industry and following many client requests to audit dive processes, procedures and operations. We hold a long standing reputation for providing client representatives to the offshore diving operations industry so it was a natural progression for the company. CSL will ensure that diving operations are conducted safely and in compliance with the Diving at Work (DAW) regulations, approved codes of practice and best industry practices.”

The firm, which currently employs 40 members of staff at its Commerce Street location as well as 150 offshore and onshore based contractors, welcomed a new management team earlier in the year also brought in to accommodate the growth and development of the organisation.

CSL has already provided the new service for parent company DOF Subsea during a recent project for a major client. John Cameron, Regional HSEQ Manager said: “It is absolutely vital that DOF Subsea dive services are fully compliant with industry guidelines and legislation, and this new service offered by CSL proved excellent while we were preparing for our recent project in West Africa. As well as being knowledgeable and experienced in the industry, CSL is working with some of the key figures in the industry to provide this service, and access to their expertise was invaluable.”

Subsea UK News | February 2015

Sarah Hutcheon, Project Services Manager, CSL

Marine Equipment Specialists

People. Product. Performance. Motive Offshore Group, comprising of Motive Rentals and Motive Engineering, specialises in high capacity winches, umbilical deployment equipment and specialised subsea equipment. High Capacity Winches Electric / Diesel HPUs Spooling Winches High Capacity Cranes Subsea Baskets

Subsea Winches Reel Drive Systems Tensioners Manufacturing Services Offshore Personnel

Visit us on Stand 148


Successful Second Year for Flexible Pipe Specialist Since its inception in March 2013, flexible pipe specialist FlexTech has gone from strength to strength, having doubled its expected turnover to reach £1million in its first year, and is on track to reach £2.5million by the end of year two. The Aberdeen headquartered market leader in flexible pipe and marine hoses works with operators to develop turnkey solutions in a more cost-effective and efficient way than current market offerings.

Craig Keyworth, Engineering Director, said:

“ The success of the company stands as a testament to the entire FlexTech team. I started the business with a clear vision as to how I wanted it to grow and develop, and it has been incredibly rewarding to see FlexTech reach these accomplishments in its initial couple of years.”

FlexTech has a continued focus on research and development, and as part of its ongoing growth and development strategy 2014 saw the company invest £500,000 in a new manufacturing and fabrication base in Lincolnshire. This will extend the company’s capabilities and offerings into the renewables sector, and allows items to be easily transported around the UK for North Sea work and further afield. Craig is looking to develop this in the coming years to facilitate increased research and to meet client demand. Craig said: “The business has been a long-term plan and we have a wealth of internal practical experience and a team driven for success, both for the clients and for ourselves as an organisation. This is an exciting time for us all at FlexTech as we look forward to continuing the momentum with plans for significant growth in the future.” In addition to concentrating on business development, corporate social responsibility has been a huge focus the company in the last year. 2014 has seen FlexTech commit £12,000 to supporting the local community in which it operates, including Ellon Rugby and Football club, Gairoch Squash Club and Lincolnshire road cycle team, Ettridge Cycles Race Team, to help improve facilities and develop the keen young athletes. With bases in Aberdeen and a research and development facility in Grimsby, FlexTech currently has a team of 10 subsea and marine specialists and aims to add a further five employees within the next 12 months. Its management team boast more than 50 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry among them.


Subsea UK News | February 2015


Breakaway Connector Specialist SECC Oil & Gas on Track to Double Revenues as Subsea Intervention Market Grows UK-based subsea connector specialist SECC Oil & Gas says it is on track to more than double revenue to over £6m in the next two years. The company’s rapid growth reflects increasing take-up of its emergency breakaway technologies, particularly among operators and service companies involved in improving production from rising numbers of maturing oil fields. SECC’s emergency breakaways are pressurebalanced and self-sealing. They provide a dry disconnect at working pressure and therefore help operators address some of the industry’s most critical safety needs by protecting against the risk of fluid spill, loss of equipment and injury to personnel. In the last 12 months, the company has secured contracts from operators including BP, Talisman, Repsol, Chevron, Statoil, FMC and OneSubsea and has installed its technology throughout the world, including in Aberdeen, Houston, Norway, Singapore and West Africa. “This has been an extremely exciting year for us as we have seen our technology consistently deliver tangible benefits for customers,” says Dr Paul Armitage, Managing Director of SECC Oil & Gas.

In the intervention market, SECC’s connector technology is providing additional practical and economic benefits:

“ Our connectors are being used as an enabling technology, providing reliable access for work to be carried out from standard support vessels,” explains Dr Armitage. “This means operators don’t have to rely on more expensive and less accessible Light Well Intervention vessels for chemical treatments such as scale squeeze and acid injection. Not only is our technology enhancing oil recovery, but also helping to reduce downtime and cut deferred revenues. “Activity in this area continues to gather pace as operators look for more efficient ways

to maintain and improve production from increasing numbers of maturing oil fields.” The technology-driven company, which was founded in Cheshire in 2008, has so far brought three patented emergency breakaways to market and is now developing more connectors to add to its portfolio as part of its growth strategy.

“ Through our commitment to innovation and intensive product development, we have carved out a coveted spot at the forefront of the connector and emergency disconnect market,” explains SECC’s Global Business Development Manager, Mark Henderson.

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Quick Hydraulics Enjoys Surge in Business Hydraulic engineering specialists Quick Hydraulics is on track for a 500% increase in turnover from business created in the Aberdeen region. In 2013, Quick Hydraulics recorded turnover of £100k, with the figure rising to £500k in the last 12 months. Quick Hydraulics has also recruited the company’s first Aberdeen-based employee and has announced plans to move into a permanent office in the west end. Sales engineer Charlie Munro will be responsible for business development and building new customer relationships.

Managing director and owner Andrew Esson said: “Business

is booming for us in Aberdeen. We are committed to the city and this is emphasised by Charles’ appointment and the opening of our base in Queens Gardens. Our financial success is also due to our rapid response to our Aberdeen customers’ needs.”

Mr Esson indicated that the rapid growth in Aberdeen is just the beginning. There are plans for a workshop to meet local manufacturing requirements and higher turnover targets set for 2015. “We have 34 engineers and technicians working in North Shields that service the Aberdeen market and our customers will continue to gain access to our talented team. We have even bigger plans for the next year, as we are earmarking turnover of £1m. We are also developing plans to open an Aberdeenbased workshop in the second half of the year. These are bold targets but well within our reach.” Quick Hydraulics has been in business since 1977 in the north east of England. The company is also a keen supporter of apprenticeships and is currently supporting six technicians through the nationally recognised schemes. The company was the winner of the OPITO Top Employer for Engagement with Education award at the recent OPITO National Oil and Gas Skills Week.

Andrew Esson, Managing Director, Quick Hydraulics

GSE Rentals to present Optimal Ranging in the UK Aberdeen-based GSE Rentals Ltd is pleased to announce an agreement with Optimal Ranging Inc. to provide sales and service support for the new ORION underwater utility survey system in the UK.

The ORION Cable Tracker brings the power of model-based processing to cable and pipeline Depth of Burial (DoB) surveys. The method is based on the optimization of data from multiple sensors against a model of the magnetic field expected from a utility line carrying an AC tone (actively applied or passively present). System accuracy is estimated and presented in real-time. The ORION system can be ROV mounted or deployed in a towed or fixed-hull set-up. In combination with bathymetric seabed

data obtained from a terrain model, altimeter, or vessel depth sounder, the difference between bottom and utility depth can provide depth of cover accompanied by a 95% confidence interval. Systems are immediately available for sale or for rental from GSE Rentals in Aberdeen.

For further information go to &


Stork Strengthens UK & Africa Senior Management Team

Dave Thompson, Technical Director, Subsea Innovation

Stork, global provider of knowledge-based asset integrity management services focused on the oil & gas, chemical and power sectors, announces today two key appointments within its UK & Africa Senior Management team. Rod Agnew has been appointed to the position of Vice President of Service Delivery and Joe Podolsky as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Both Rod and Joe will be based in Aberdeen, UK, which is the operational hub for the company’s upstream oil & gas business, and take on their respective roles with immediate effect. As VP of Service Delivery, Rod will be responsible for managing the development, growth and safe delivery of Stork’s product line services. Rod has an extensive track record in service delivery, with over 17 years of experience in the Oil & Gas sector in various delivery and operational focused roles.

Right: Rod Agnew, Vice President of Service Delivery. Left: Joe Podolsky, Vice President of Sales and Marketing

As VP of Sales and Marketing Joe will be responsible for overseeing Stork’s strategic business development operations and integrated sales, marketing and communications strategies. With over 20 years’ experience, Joe has also held senior positions in business development, strategic marketing and general management in the process automation and building automation industries.

James Smith General Manager RRC Controls Services

Mr Smith joins 3sun Group after a 16 year career with Aker Subsea Limited, where he progressed from a service team workshop manager to global infrastructure and equipment manager. Spending time in Malaysia, Brazil and Norway, he was responsible for several expansion projects and is highly skilled in project management, strategic planning and initiating process change. In the newly-created position, Mr Smith will play an integral part in the growth strategy of RRC, which has recently undergone expansion following a significant investment.

Marine Equipment Specialist Bolsters Team with Norwegian Appointment A leading North-east marine equipment specialist has strengthened its team with a key management appointment to accelerate further growth of the business. Motive Offshore has promoted Eddie Moore to head of sales at its Norway office, just over a year after launching in the region. The firm, which specialises in the manufacturing and rental of high capacity winches, umbilical deployment equipment and specialised subsea equipment including subsea winches and baskets, has a fully operational base in Stavanger and has invested in excess of £2m in its marine equipment in the last year. Mr Moore brings more than seven years of experience in the oil and gas lifting sector and will be responsible for driving sales activity and developing Motive’s client base and the brand identity in Norway. Mr Moore started work with Motive Offshore in May this year as a sales engineer, and will join Finn Wold and Ryan Thomson in Norway. Eddie Moore, Head of Sales - Norway, Motive Offshore

Subsea Innovation are pleased to announce that Dave Thompson has been appointed as their Technical Director. The company which designs and manufactures specialist engineering products to offshore oil, gas and renewable industries worldwide has made the appointment on the back of a sustained period of growth. Mr Thompson, 43, from Washington, brings a wealth of experience following a 27-year engineering career that has seen previous management roles at Technip Offshore Wind and IHC.

RRC Controls Services Appoints General Manager 3sun Group, a specialist provider of products and services to the global energy industry, has appointed James Smith as general manager for its subsea division, RRC Controls Services.

Technical Director Joins Subsea Innovation

Deep Blue Engineering Ltd Appoints Dieter Watelle to Key Post Deep Blue Engineering UK Ltd, a specialist engineering design and development company serving the international marine, oil, gas and renewable energy industries, announced that it has appointed Dieter Watelle to the newly-created position of Design Engineer. Watelle’s primary responsibility is to develop the sophisticated propulsion systems for the Shuttle Sub. Essentially a large payloadcarrying, remotely operated vehicle (ROV), the Shuttle Sub is Deep Blue Engineering’s new lift and deployment system developed for companies involved in subsea operations. Watelle earned a Master of Science Degree in Electromechanical Engineering Technology with Distinction from University of Ghent. Dieter Watelle, Design Engineer, Deep Blue Engineering Ltd

Subsea UK News | February 2015



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Creating a Pipeline of Talent and Retaining Older Workers Holds Key to Plugging the Subsea Engineering Skills Gap 0

Thinking about the forthcoming 2015 General Election, if you could ask for three policy initiatives to be included in the political parties’ manifestos that will help drive growth and recruitment in the engineering sector, what would those policies be?


Greater investment in STEM apprenticeships


Greater financial support for those studying STEM subjects


Clearer energy infrastructure strategy for the UK


Increased infrastructure investment

by James Mildon, Matchtech

Greater tax breaks and subsidies



of subsea engineers said they considered

AN AGEING WORKFORCE as the greatest issue facing the UK



UK Government’s

policies on


are working


of subsea engineers said they considered

THE LACK OF STUDENTS STUDYING STEM SUBJECTS as the greatest issue facing the UK

We’ve all heard this story before: Ageing workforce, not enough students studying STEM, low apprenticeship numbers all creating a significant skills gap in the engineering industry. Yet the issue is getting more serious and few places are seeing the strain more acutely than the subsea sector. As a large proportion of our subsea engineers near retirement in the next decade, this skills gap will only be exacerbated. Encouraging more potential engineers into the talent pipeline is the long-term solution but a more immediate problem also needs to be addressed and that focuses on retaining talent and filling vacancies today. Achieving this means understanding the motivations and aspirations of the UK’s engineers and to achieve this, Matchtech runs an annual Confidence Index, which this year polled more than 3,500 engineers, including those in the subsea sector. We asked for their opinions, perceptions, experiences, forecasts and ambitions for their industry and then took these findings to be qualified and reviewed by industry representatives during a roundtable debate in which the various themes that emerged were discussed. It seems that engineers and industry are in agreement: we need more skilled talent now. Some very practical solutions were proposed. Subsea engineers agreed with their peers across the engineering community that the skills shortage is the overwhelming challenge facing the industry, with 94% of subsea engineers believing there is a skills shortage in the UK. Those polled identified the ageing workforce as the biggest threat to the future growth and development of the subsea engineering sector (with 41% citing this as the greatest challenge). The second most critical challenge facing the sector was identified as the lack of students studying STEM subjects, with 13% pointing to this. So retaining existing talent is seen as being more important to the current needs of the industry than establishing the pipeline of new talent, and this is an area that gains relatively little attention or focus.


To achieve this I believe employers need to look at a range of initiatives. They have to make it easier for engineers who are nearing retirement to continue working should they wish to. Giving more flexible working schemes and allowing pension schemes to be adapted to allow staff to delay retirement or continue working in a consultancy capacity are all ways that senior talent can be retained. This helps avoid a talent drain in the industry and will also help in the development of a pipeline of new talent – the more experienced engineers have a vital role to play in mentoring and helping train younger talent. Another opportunity that arose from the survey findings is that more than half (59%) of UK engineers said they are considering transferring to a different sector within the industry as the job market continues to grow. Oil and gas was the most popular sector for those looking to transfer (chosen by 54% of those surveyed). Creating the opportunity and necessary training for engineers to transfer technical skills and managerial ability across to the subsea sector could hold the key to reducing the skills gap, with a much more immediate effect. Transfer of skills is something that both engineers and industry want more of; basic engineering skills are highly transferrable and this should translate up rather than ‘pigeon holing’ skill sets to industry sectors.

It also has the promise of helping the UK create a more flexible workforce, able to use engineering skills across a range of sectors and able to move as demand dictates.

Subsea UK News | February 2015

While these initiatives will help plug the immediate skills gap, opening up a pipeline of talent has to also be part of any solution. A range of initiatives are being undertaken by employers to encourage more apprentices and graduates to join the subsea engineering industry (the Subsea UK annual scholarship among them). The engineers we polled agreed that more needs to be done in this area with 39% saying increasing subsea engineering apprenticeships should be a priority, with 19% calling for more education in schools to encourage pupils to see engineering as the career of choice; retaining and up-skilling of workers in other sectors (and the military) were also seen as key to addressing the issue. Adult apprenticeships were deemed by some industry leaders we spoke to as a successful option, producing more loyal employees, who are often faster to learn particularly if they are up-skilling from another STEM industry. I would suggest all of these should be championed by the industry and Government. While the subsea sector is experiencing some uncertainty at the moment, driven by low oilprices hampering exploration and investment programmes, the reality is that subsea engineering has been a large growth area for the UK. It’s also helped maintain the nation’s position as a major oil and gas producer. It is also clear that demand for candidates is strong, with more than two fifths (43%) of subsea engineers saying their company is looking to recruit more people in the coming 12 months, and just 29% saying they do not believe their employer will hire more people. The subsea engineering sector needs to act now to address the skills gap, both today and for the future.

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