Bergen, Norway 11 – 13 June, 2019

UTC 2018: Lean and looking forward


Photo of Jon Arve Sværen, Chairman of the Program Committee, both Moderators Kristin N. Berg and Wendy Lam and Hans Erik Berge, Chairman of the UTF.  Photo credit: UTC2018_Medvind

The industry is leaner, but it’s now also looking forward, taking on board themes around digitalisation, but also autonomous subsea systems and all-electric subsea systems.

These were some of the main messages from this year’s Underwater Technology Conference (UTC) 2018. The event, held in Bergen, saw nearly three days of conference presentations, information sharing and networking.

From the day zero Subsea Market Insight Day and Ice Breaker networking event, at USF Verftet, there was a buzz, with a feeling of optimism about the future of the industry after three painful years of cost cutting and business strategy reassessment.

Summarising the main themes of the conference, held in Bergen’s Grieghallen, UTC Programme Committee Chairman Jon Arve Sværen said that there seemed to be a consensus that confidence was returning to the industry. “The downturn has impacted our profitability and we need to find ways to bring that back. Some of the ways to do this have been discussed, such as collaboration, new business models, cooperation, and there’s more to be done in these areas,” he said. “The basis of this has to be to share and to work more openly. The mindset has to change to keep this moving forward.”
There also needs to be a renewed focus on innovation, he said. “A lot of people this week have talked about innovation, in a business sense and a technology sense. In a downturn like the one we have had, it’s been more cost cutting than innovation that’s been happening. So, innovation needs to be brought back to the industry, to maintain our competitiveness with other energy forms, like shale.”

One of the standout themes of UTC 2018 was digitalisation, starting with Aker BP CEO Karl Johnny Hersvik’s keynote opening speech, through to today’s Digitalisation panel session. “Digitisation is not a strategy, we have learned, it is a tool and we need to define a problem that we can solve, and solve it in pieces, pieces by piece,” said Sværen.

The event heard from senior executives from industry players including Subesa 7, TechnipFMC, OneSubsea, Aker Solutions, Oceaneering, Baker Hughes, a GE Company, DNV GL, ABB, Siemens and more, alongside operators including Equinor, Lundin, Wintershall and Woodside.

The best presentation award was presented to Stefan Schlømlich, from SAP/Fedem Technology, who focused on next generation real-time condition monitoring and digital twins for the subsea oil and gas industry.

The Underwater Technology Foundation’s Subsea Award was presented to Equinor and Statoil for the E-ROV project, while this year’s Subsea Upcoming Company of the Year Award winner, supported by GCE Subsea and Sparebanken, was Earth Science Analytics, which works in artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Yeissno Diaz, MSc Subsea Engineering graduate at the University of Aberdeen. Photo: UTC2018_Medvind

The winner of the best student paper award was Yeissno Diaz, MSc Subsea Engineering graduate at the University of Aberdeen. Diaz said: “It is great that the conference gives opportunities to the new generation, to believe in them. After I finished my presentation, I got to meet new people and I will be able to expand my networking and new possibilities will come out of that.”

Others also expressed their highlights of the event. “Having people from a parallel industry coming in and giving their insight on what we are doing and what it actually means, because it’s a mystery to most of us, let’s face it. That was insightful and hopefully provocative,” said Martin Davies, Technology Development Manager, Upstream, at Woodside Energy in Australia.

“It was nice to have the external speakers from the IT software side and they are bringing in a bit of a new attitude. These guys want things to happen fast ad there are barriers in the big organisations in our industry. They have been able to work a bit differently with Aker BP and that’s maybe something to think about for the other operators,” said Stig Instanes, TechnipFMC.

“This is my first UTC and it’s been very useful and a great experience. I have a better understanding of the overview of the market and its perspectives,” said Lydie Blanque, BHGE.

UTC 2018 was the 24th Underwater Technology Conference, with 700 professionals attending from 12-14 June 2018.

Information about UTC 2019 will be released in due course. We look forward to seeing you there.
Click here to view photos from UTC 2018.

Written by Elaine Maslin