Subsea UK Urges British Cos to Tap Australian Projects

Following Subsea UK's successful conference during Australia Oil & Gas, the industry body is urging British companies to take advantage of the major opportunities before it is too late.

"With ten massive projects in the Australian North West Shelf, amounting to around $130 billion of capital expenditure at front end engineering stages all aiming to start production in the next four or five years, the race is on to secure the necessary resources," said Alistair Birnie, Subsea UK chief executive. "But no-one is waiting for the Brits to arrive. We must get down there and make sure we are in the race at the start. There is little slack in terms of skills, equipment and vessels and UK companies can seize the opportunities to meet the inevitable capacity challenges and secure a sizable amount of the action."

In association with the Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) and Subsea Energy Australia (SEA), Subsea UK organized a two-day, subsea-focused conference in parallel with Australia Oil & Gas (AOG), the largest event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere

The subsea event highlighted the major opportunities in the Australasian region, including projects such as Pluto and Gorgon, which are destined to take gas onshore for onward shipment to China, Taiwan, Japan and beyond.

Many of these offshore projects are predicting first gas in 2014 or 2015 and, combined with the need for onshore LNG facilities, there will inevitably be constraints in resources and equipment, including vessels.

Birnie added, "The principal constraint will be people. There are simply not enough skilled people and experience to handle all the projects – both onshore and offshore - at the same time at a global level. In some areas, the industry is dealing with the skills issue but it will take time to develop those skills. Finding the necessary experience will be even more of a challenge. We have to develop the resource pool now and get people experienced.

"The remoteness of the market means that construction vessels will play a key role. Both Acergy and Subsea 7 presented at our conference on how they are already positioning their offering to their markets and are making strategic investments now to ensure they secure the business."

But Birnie warned that this was not just an Australasia issue. There is a global challenge looming as the projects in Asia Pacific will be competing against projects in Brazil, Gulf of Mexico and, very shortly, Russia. In Australia there will be competition from the mining sector and in Europe from the rapidly-growing renewable energy sector.

"These global demands require a global response. In addition to skills, we will need to come up with complex solutions and new technology. Manufacturing capacity will also be scarce. Getting the right global strategy among operators, contractors and throughout the supply chain, will be critical.

"We need to understand the risks and the timing of demand so that we know what is expected of us and when. Decisions made in one location will impact elsewhere. If we get it right we will be in for a very satisfying and lucrative future. If we get it wrong we will see costs ramping up and quality suffering. More importantly we will not be able to ensure security of supply."