The subsea industry needs to be better at promoting itself to the next generation, this morning’s Underwater Technology Conference (UTC) panel debate heard.
Executives from TechnipFMC, Subsea 7, OneSubsea, Baker Hughes (a GE company – BHGE), and Aker Solutions took to the stage to discuss current and future industry challenges, including having the talent to be able to move into new digital frontiers, at the subsea industry focused Bergen event.
The concern about skills reflects a positivity in the industry, as activity is being seen to be picking up. But, it also reflects how the industry is still grappling with how it can utilise digital technologies fully. “It’s an important tool but still a buzz word,” said Ben Charbit, VP Technology and Marketing, OneSubsea.
“Competency needs around software are changing,” John Macleod, Chief Technology Officer, Aker Solutions said. “We have to create that excitement in our industry to attract people in. You don’t have to be an engineer to work in Subsea.”
“One of the challenges is the age of the industry (workforce),” said Brian Taylor, Technical Manager, Well Control, TechnipFMC. “Our branding over the last five years has been zero to the next generation, compared to someone like Google.”
“We need to communicate a vision,” said Charbit. “You see a lot about renewables. We need to communicate about the technology that goes in to oil and gas production. We need to do a better job at communicating the vision we have, including digital.”
More positively, there’s been more trust been operators and suppliers, said John Kerr, Chief Technology Officer, BHGE. “There has been a change in how operators work with the supplier base, with alliance and aligned outcomes, not just bundled services.” This could go so far as the “subsea as a service concept,” as mentioned in this morning’s plenary session.
Macleod said: “Subsea as a service is one to think about.” But, he also said, echoing Aker BP Karl Johnny Hersvik’s sentiments this morning, that ‘cost is cost’, whether it’s in capex or opex. “I still think we are too capex focused,” Macleod said. “Quality is undervalued.”
Taylor added: “We need to consider total cost, not just hardware. We need to design equipment that can be installed in a shorter time. The industry buys packages – trees, manifolds, etc. – in we stay in that world we will limit ourselves. We need to look across the whole system.”
The supplier panel also echoed the operator panel from earlier this morning in its concern about the industry forgetting the hard-won learnings of the past three years if activity continues to increase. “We have been in pain for three years and it would be an absolute crime to unwind that,” said Kerr. Taylor added: “One of the risks we need to guard against is doing things the way we used to.” But, Macleod asked: “Will the enthusiasm for standardisation continue with $80 oil?”
UTC 2018 is the 24th Underwater Technology Conference, with 700 professionals and 40 exhibitors expected to attend at Bergen’s Grieghallen from 12-14 June 2018.
Follow the proceedings on the conference app or Twitter: @UTC_Bergen.