The Subsea sector is becoming increasingly active its use of digitalisation and automation. These developments are not only helping to unlock latent potential within the North Sea, but also can optimise areas such as deepwater well safety, and help bolster the industry’s rapidly evolving infrastructure.
The subsea sector is currently valued globally at £50bn and predicted to reach £140bn by 2035. Scotland is undoubtedly a global leader in this area accounting for 15% (£7.5billion) of global activity. Expanding Subsea opportunities are largely down to technology advances which are assisting with cost efficiency both from an operational and capital expenditure perspective. Aberdeen in particular is quickly becoming the ‘global underwater hub’ for the sector.
Opportunities for innovation
The integration of digitalisation in Subsea has created multiple opportunities for innovation which can place companies at the forefront of the market. However, due to a number of factors including oil price volatility and uncertainty, businesses have often struggled to rapidly identify and solve innovation challenges, restricting potential growth.
This week, in the lead up to the world’s largest annual Subsea event, Subsea Expo in Aberdeen, Subsea UK’s Chief Executive, Neil Gordon, said “over the past few years the word innovation has been talked about, but not put into practice as cost-cutting has been the main focus.” At the event, Gordon described the sector as “in improving health and en route to recovery” however he also commented that the industry still requires new skills to secure its digital future.
Traditionally, due to the lack of a National Oil Company (NOC), the UK’s oil sector has been heavily reliant on government funding to support innovation and uncover commercial potential. However, the reach of traditional subsea sector boundaries could be expanding; when speaking at Subsea Expo Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse said that there is now a move towards describing the sector more generically as ‘underwater’ as it is becoming ‘more than oil and gas’.
It is clear that as innovation becomes integral to success in this market, companies need to consider how they can fund their R&D more efficiently in order to continue to evolve and grow. Exploring government funding options such as tax credits and relief can help support further innovation projects and secure the UK’s positions as a lead player of this high value market.