Global subsea energy leaders will convene in Bergen, Norway at the Underwater Technology Conference (UTC) in mid-June to meet, greet and exchange ideas on the crucial underwater technology topics. Stig Instanes, TechnipFMC and Rune Vesterkjær, Aker Solutions, helped to shape a vibrant and diverse program, and they recently discussed the technical highlights and networking opportunities in store for visitors to UTC ’23.
The scenic west coast of Norway is the place for the Underwater Technology Conference (UTC) 2023, scheduled for June 13-15, 2023, Grieghallen in Bergen, Norway.
UTC 2023 is estimated to attract 500 to 800 attendees and nearly 40 technical papers. But what the UTC lacks in size it compensates for in stature, as the event regularly attracts a broad array of leading executives from global companies working in the offshore energy and subsea space, including a dozen keynote speakers from key operators like Petrobras, Equinor and Shell, as well as the main suppliers in the subsea space.
“Many of us have been around for a lot of conferences over the years, and I would say that UTC is one of the few conferences where you see that the operators are taking a big part of the conference, both as presenters but also as regular delegates,” said Stig Instanes, BD & Sales Manager, TechnipFMC, who serves as the Board Chairman of the Underwater Technology Foundation. “There is a very high probability that you’ll meet your end client, the operator, at UTC.”
“Networking is the main thing,” said Rune Vesterkjær, VP – Subsea Energy Transition & Low Carbon Solutions, Aker Solutions, who serves as UTC’s Program Committee Chair. UTC allows those who have developed the technology to meet and collaborate with colleagues and clients; “this is the magic happens; where you find even better solutions and you discuss other areas of application.”
As the world emerges from the effects of the Covid shutdown, Vesterkjær argues that the social aspects of business are more important than ever, particularly to connect the younger people in the industry with the senior members of the industry, so each can gain from the others insight, experience and expertise.
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The UTC Conference Program
While UTC maintains its strong commitment to traditional oil and gas, it too sees the writing on the wall regarding energy transition, and the conference program is a repository of knowledge and insight on how companies in the space can leverage their own experience to broaden – not replace – their work in discovering and recovering fossil fuels.
“We still have a lot to do when it comes to traditional oil and gas subsea developments, and that will be covered,” said Instanes. But increasingly, too, there is a push to leverage traditional offshore oil and gas subsea technologies for ‘new’ energy and systems, from floating wind to hydrogen to carbon capture and storage. “More and more we see that carbon capture and storage is relevant for subsea. I think all of us in the supply chain are ramping up for that, and there are quite a few technical presentations on that theme” together with the other emerging technologies.
“This conference is dedicated to underwater technology within the energy space, and right now there is an energy crunch,” said Instanes. “This year’s topic, securing global energy, is highly relevant for all of us. We need to harvest energy in the ocean space if we are going to succeed with this energy transformation. We are now looking into how traditional oil and gas underwater technology can enable renewable technology within the ocean space.”
“The technical program is always what’s been the key to the UTC,” said Vesterkjær. “Learning what’s been going on in the industry, learning about breakthroughs and the projects.” UTC attracts participants from around the world, which Vesterkjær sees as a positive, allowing executives from different countries and cultures to learn from the experiences, triumphs and failures from colleagues half a world away.
“In Norway and Europe you have a lot of incentives and focus on how we can have a more sustainable energy production,” said Vesterkjær. “But for it to be sustainable, it’s important that we address the topics that we have of the trilemma; where you have energy security, energy affordability and energy sustainability; and see that it’s also a profitable business.”
By its very nature, the subsea sector must invent, engineer and deliver products and systems that are robust and reliable, traditionally focused on the offshore oil and gas sector. The solutions that exist are not exclusively for oil and gas production, but also for methods of installation; methods to handle the high pressures; and understanding how to minimize impact on the surrounding environment. As energy evolves to include renewables, as well as budding industries like carbon capture and storage, Vesterkjær sees UTC as the platform to bring together the traditional industry with the new player to share information and help devise new energy solutions and businesses.
“I think our focus on robustness, reliability, and our proven technology is a good example of what we can achieve as a subsea industry,” said Vesterkjær, “to see how we can help out on the other [emerging] industries to come.
In total there will be 36 technical papers, all focused on the trilemma: energy security, energy affordability and energy sustainability. The presentations will meld traditional oil and gas with renewable and ‘clean’ energy topics: offshore wind, hydrogen, wave energy, carbon capture and storage, as well as decarbonization topics in regards to subsea processing, including electrification on the sea bed.
In addition to the traditional conference highlights, there will also be a field trip on the first day of the event – so dubbed day zero of the UTC – to OneSubsea’s facilities in Bergen and also to Aker Solutions’ facilities at Ågotnes.