Chief Executive of Subsea UK, Neil Gordon:

With the theme ‘Facing the Future’, Subsea Expo 2018 will examine what must be done to reinvent the industry in a new reality.

Over the past 12 months there have been encouraging signs that the oil and gas market is slowly starting to recover, with news of projects at early development stage beginning to filter through. This is starting to trickle down but it will be some time before there’s cause for genuine optimism across the subsea supply chain.

Operational spend in IRM (inspection, repair and maintenance) is still a challenge as companies continue to operate within very tight budgets. It’s extremely difficult to predict when the industry will return to a more sustainable level, however the UK is in a strong position to embrace the new norm and, indeed, capitalise upon it.

To do this, we must improve efficiencies, maximise opportunities and be more open to doing things in a different way. I believe that by 2020, we will really start to feel the effects of the hard work that is being done now to ensure the UK remains competitive within the global marketplace.

Companies must continue to look beyond the North Sea in order to increase the UK’s competitiveness in a growing global industry. Our latest business activity review revealed around 80% of large companies are expecting to grow exports in the next three years, with a third expecting export sales to increase by between 10% and 20% and a fifth by over 20%. Meanwhile, 65% of SMEs believe they will increase exports, with the majority anticipating growth of between 10% and 20% and over a fifth anticipating more than 20% growth in international sales.

The UK subsea sector has somewhat made efforts to weather the storm of the downturn by increasing exports and moving into the offshore renewables space, however we need to see more of this going forward. We have been leaders in subsea for the decades and we must continue to take this expertise to the markets that hold the most potential and who are actively seeking what we can offer.

At Subsea UK, we are doing everything we can to help subsea companies overcome the challenges of diversification so they can make their mark in the renewables sector.

With a significant number of renewable projects launching over the next few years, and with world renowned experience in oil and gas subsea engineering which has been developed over the past decades, the UK has the skills and expertise to add real value to the offshore wind sector.

The companies that are making huge efforts to adapt to the new reality are the ones that will reap the rewards. Firms that are listening to what their customers need, extending their global reach and diversifying into emerging markets will have a much brighter future ahead of them.

There are some promising opportunities out there, but businesses need to step out of their comfort zone to get after them. We need to build stronger alliances, support the supply chain and continue to invest in new innovative technologies if we want to remain at the forefront of the global subsea industry.

We look forward to discussing and debating these topics, amongst many others, at Subsea Expo 2018 and we hope to see you there.

Subsea Expo 2018 takes place at the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre from February 7-9.

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