As anyone who has worked in the UK energy industry for any length of time will tell you, nothing stays the same for long. However, in the months since I came on board as a Director at 1CSI, the winds of change have been blowing harder than usual around our industry and all manner of ingenious technology is popping up to convert it into useful energy. With the launch of the North Sea Transition Deal in March, the Net Zero juggernaut is coming; it’s time to jump on board or jump out of the way!
1CSI began its life as a specialist consultancy, supporting Operators and Service Companies to manage the integrity and process efficiency of their assets. We have worked through, and supported clients through, seismic changes in the energy industry over the last 30 years. Now as a technology developer we are using our experience to guide our own product through the maze.
So, after much discussion with my fellow Directors, Alex and Matthew, here are the top five lessons we have learned over the years to help us navigate major changes in the market:
1. Look at existing product portfolios with new eyes
Adaptation and diversification will be key in the coming years. The speed that companies can shift their focus and capabilities, and the extent to which they are willing and able to do so will play a critical part in their success.
The extent of diversification in the energy industry so far has been varied, but it is clear that many of the major players in the services industry are actively broadening their capabilities and reaping the benefits with some serious contract wins.
With record-breaking offshore wind projects like ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia One coming online, and Equinor’s game-changing Hywind Tampen under construction, the early birds and their suppliers have certainly caught some valuable worms, but there are so many more opportunities to come on the road to Net Zero.
Constructing and adapting vessels, technologies, and service lines to specialise in the new requirements of the renewables industries will pay dividends, but beware – Operators want to work with companies that know their stuff, it’s not just a question of adding the right pictures to a company website. Especially in light of the Transition Deal document published last month, suppliers will need to be ready to really demonstrate how their services and technologies are of specific benefit to the Renewable Energy Industry.
2. Work with industry bodies to find out how the major players need their supply chain to adapt.
OGUK, OGTC, and the EIC will be key in the delivery of Net Zero. With their finger on the pulse of the Energy industry and their collective voices representing us at a high level, they are well placed to support the changes that are coming.
The OGTC has been a key backer and supporter of our product development process, and in the time we have worked with them, they have forged ahead with their commitment to supporting the transition to Net Zero. There has been a root and branch strengthening in their own governing principles and funding / support criteria. A vocal and active supporter of the development and evolution of the traditional energy industry through technology, the OGTC has issued a clarion call to technology developers: we must support and drive the new direction for Operators.
Large operators are having to change tack at speed. They are reliant on their supply chain to be able to support their rapidly changing requirements. Industry collaboration bodies such as OGTC are dedicated to bridging the gap, working with Operators and supply chain companies to facilitate the development of ground-breaking new technologies that will support their business in the right way, to achieve their targets.
3. Invest in the changes
Many Tier 1 Contractors were quick out of the blocks, turning their sights towards renewables. In recent years, there have been significant shifts in the way they invest in technology, manage projects, and in the way they present themselves.
Companies who have backed up their commitments with investment in infrastructure or technologies (either converted or new) like heavy-lift vessels, hybrid battery technology to reduce fuel usage, new inspection technology to reduce the need for vessels in the field, are seeing the rewards in awarded contracts and a backlog of work that will come to fruition in the coming years.
Organisations throughout the subsea supply chain have been adapting alongside the big players, either through technology development as we have, or by nurturing and launching new services specifically developed to support renewables activity and Net Zero targets. Investment of time and money now to join the flow of effort and ingenuity that is going towards Net Zero will be effort well spent.
4. It’s not just about the marketing!
1CSI is a technology developer entering a market in flux, and we have grasped the opportunity to support the Net Zero journey with both hands. When the concept of our flagship inspection tool TIAMAT was first developed, we knew that it would be able to bring benefit to asset integrity teams across the whole subsea industry, in traditional Energy, Renewables, Defence, and Civil.
With the support and blessing of the OGTC, we took time to fully explore all of the possible ways our technology would support the renewables industry. We gained an enhanced our understanding of what is required, not only in our marketing strategy, but also in the technical development of the tool itself. Like many companies in our position, our technology and business is better for the effort made to broaden our vision and strategy.
5. Similar, but different…
The renewables market looks a lot like the traditional oil and gas energy industry we all know (and some of us love). Some of our existing customers and competitors may already be in there making headway, but like the new technologies driving the renewables revolution, there is more to it than meets the eye.
The new breed of Operators is conscious that their activities, actions, and progress have the attention of the world. They are shrewd, cost-focused and highly accountable. Acutely conscious of their environmental impact, but not eco-warriors. Crucially, are searching for the most efficient way to generate the type of energy that the world (or most of the world) craves and strive to make profits for their shareholders at the same time.
Overall, and regardless of the extent that individual organisations are shifting into renewable energy, the energy industry is becoming a leaner, keener, more modern system, striving for efficiency across the board. We all need to adapt our approach as well as our products and services. If we can use our ingenuity and resources to catch the waves of change and meet the demands as they evolve, the prizes are there to be won.