The subsea manifesto

SIGNIFICANT funding for research and development and a national skills program are two of the key demands from the UK's subsea sector.
The subsea manifesto The subsea manifesto The subsea manifesto The subsea manifesto The subsea manifesto

The sector, through its industry representative body Subsea UK, also is asking for an effective government-led and funded technology development program as well as a stable fiscal regime encouraging investment in game-changing technology.

Subsea UK believes securing support and funding via a national program will have a major impact on developing the next wave of research and scientific discoveries.

These discoveries, it believes, will lead to the creation of technology applications to economically and safely recover the more difficult to reach reserves of hydrocarbons - as well as prolonging the life of, and increasing production from, mature wells.

"A national subsea R&D program would help extend the life of ageing North Sea assets, ensuring maximum recovery of remaining reserves in a commercially viable way," Subsea UK chief executive Neil Gordon said.

"It would underpin the long-term future of a major UK manufacturing and service industry and have a positive impact on the merging marine renewables sector."

Subsea UK has launched a UK-wide program to attract people to the subsea sector.

It believes more must be done to raise the industry's profile and ensure subsea companies have a pool of engineers, technicians and project managers to draw on both now and in the future.

"We are already working with schools and universities as well as rolling out conversion training programs for engineers coming into subsea and for former military personnel but we need a much more concerted effort between the industry, education and government to make sure we have a sustainable pipeline of talent," Gordon said.

The UK has a leading position in the subsea oil and gas industry thanks to the "laboratory" that is the UK Continental Shelf.

Already almost 45% of UKCS production comes from subsea wells. Forthcoming developments will take this to 70%.

Getting the remaining oil out of the North Sea seabed and in other deeper water provinces around the world will largely rely on the next wave of subsea innovation.

However, the UK may be in danger of losing its position at the head of the subsea technology peloton due to efforts by other countries.

The governments of Brazil, Norway and the US have had the vision to implement sustained investment programs in subsea research, which, Subsea UK says is threatening the UK's leading position in the sector.

A shortage of skills and a lack of investment in game-changing technologies is threatening the UK's market share in the subsea world.

Brazil's oil and gas R&D fund is projected to raise almost £6 ($A9.9) billion by 2020.

Norway's demo 2000 program has attracted about £7 million per annum and in the US the DeepStar scheme receives £2.4 million a year.

According to Subsea UK there has been no industry and government investment in similar UK programs in the past 15 years.

"The UK's current success in subsea is due to industry and government investment in the early years of the North Sea when it was a test-bed for subsea equipment and process," the lobby group said.

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