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    IMCA reaches major milestone

    News // April 11, 2006

    News that membership has passed 300 marks a major milestone for IMCA – the International Marine Contractors Association – the trade association, which represents offshore marine and underwater engineering companies based in over 35 countries.

    “Passing the 300 members-mark is certainly a major milestone for us, but it was not entirely unexpected as during the course of the past year alone we have seen a 15 per cent increase in membership, and in 10 years our membership has grown three-fold,” explained Hugh Williams, IMCA’s chief executive.   

    “Strength in membership in terms of numbers and standing brings benefits to all our members around the world. Increasingly we see IMCA guidelines used on a global basis, with some clients making compliance with them a requirement for pre-qualification, and it is this ‘upward spiral’, coupled with our hard work at championing and challenging the issues that are really affecting the industry, that has led to our dramatic growth. Our growth pattern makes interesting reading – we’ve added some 200 members since September 1995, we had 101 members then.  By February 2000 we had 150 that figure rose to 200 in August 2002 and to 250 in mid-2004.  Now we’ve broken through the 300-mark.  The more members we have, the larger share of the industry we represent and this means our voice grows stronger still and our common goals are easier to achieve. With our four strong geographic regional sections this voice is heard more and more worldwide and our members’ clients – the oil and gas exploration and production companies - increasingly adopt and endorse IMCA guidance and, where it becomes a contractual requirement, ensure that it is delivered. This certainly gives strength to our members and to IMCA itself,” said Williams.

    Frits Janmaat of the Allseas Group, President & Chairman of IMCA said the industry was looking forward to some of the challenges it faces: “Helped by the present market situation we have seen major steps towards achieving better terms in offshore contracts. We also see an improved balance between the risks taken and the rewards received inmost of our contracts, although there are still improvements to be made especially in the large EPIC contracts typical for the West African market.Looking ahead, the sector must deal with a major shortage in skilled personnel, which is hurting all parties at present and is being addressed through various initiatives.  IMCA is actively involved in these discussions and has recently performed a skills survey to identify the shortfalls.  The challenge now is to improve the way we ‘sell’ the industry to available skilled personnel and to students so we can start filling vacancies,” he explained.

    In the current climate in the industry, with safety – as-ever –  of prime importance, it is essential that there is a full understanding of the need for self-regulation as a vital tool and its implementation by those who understand its challenges and proper solutions. IMCA has therefore issued a fact sheet on self-regulation.  “It’s a ‘hot’ subject at the moment with the general jump in activity levels,” explained Janmaat

    Self-regulation has always been an IMCA goal.  Trade associations do not regulate in the way that legislators do.  They provide guidance to members and work to update and introduce new guidelines wherever there appears to be a need.  Members working to those guidelines is a way of ‘self-regulating’, rather than looking to clients or government for regulation.  Self-regulation is the logical result of action by industry participants to address a number of concerns.

    If an industry does not self-regulate then some other body will impose its own rules or regulations, either in the form of governments or through client requirements.  If this happens, contractors face the prospect of each client and each government stipulating its own, varying requirements.  This causes considerable strain to each contractor and extra, unnecessary costs.  The strain includes finding out the different requirements, tendering with allowance for them and then complying with them for each project and for contractors who often work for different clients all around the world it is a potentially repetitive, expensive and avoidable burden.  As it is, contractors working off Sakhalin Island can use the same IMCA Guidelines as those working in the Gulf of Mexico or in the North Sea.

    “Our industry can only be healthy, high quality, safe and efficient with a resulting reduction in wasted time and money if authorities, contractors and operators all take responsibility,” said Hugh Williams, notingnthat self regulation can only be sustained when:

    • Contractors continue to create industry-wide good practice guidelines, strive to comply with them and use them with their own sub-contractors
    • Clients adopt and endorse the guidance and, where it becomes a contractual requirement, ensure that it is delivered
    • Authorities do the same from their perspective

    “An additional benefit of self-regulation is that it provides vital benchmarking tools for our members,” Williams noted.

    The past year saw IMCA reach 10th anniversary of its ‘birth’ out of the merger of two trade associations - AODC and DPVOA, and the past twelve months have reflected many new and longer-term IMCA initiatives including:

    • IMCA’s Contracting Principles were published and welcomed by members and their clients as a useful document aiding discussion on contracting issues
    • IMCA’s catalogue of published guidance and other documents continued to expand with 17 new/updated titles
    • Over 100 information notes briefed members on a wide range of issues that could have adversely affected them and on many topics that would aid them
    • 12 safely flashes alerted members to lessons from 51 incidents
    • A highly successful string of events including the annual seminar in Abu Dhabi (the 2006 seminar will be held in Copenhagen 19-20 September); the members-only safety seminar at the Ajax Amsterdam Arena; new briefing events for clients, regulators and potential members; the midsummer charity ball; and IMCA’s first golf day
    • In the Americas, the diving sub-group overcame a raft of issues many previously thought insurmountable to finalise arrangements that will allow contractors to achieve compliance with the IMCA International Code of Practice for Offshore Diving
    • IMCA has links to the following trade associations and other organisations:
    o IMO (International Maritime Organization) (Observer status)
    o OGP (International Association of Oil and Gas Producers), including its Safety Committee
    o IADC (International Association of Drilling Contractors)
    o IAGC (International Association of Geophysical Contractors)
    o IACS (International Association of Certification Societies)
    o ISO, CEN, BSi and NORSOK (the global, European, British and Norwegian standards organisations)
    o OMHEC (North Sea-based Offshore Mechanical Handling Equipment Committee)
    o EDTC (European Diving Technology Committee)
    o DMAC (Diving Medical Advisory Committee), for which IMCA also provides the secretariat
    o OIAC (UK HSE Offshore Industries Advisory Committee)
    o HILF (UK HSE/Industry Liaison Forum)
    o CBI (the Confederation of British Industry), including its British Business Bureau (BBB) for EU matters
    o UK DTI Trade Association Liaison Group
    o EEF (UK Engineering Employers Federation)
    o OLF (Oljeindustriens Landsforening - the Norwegian Oil Industry Association)
    o NOGEPA (Netherlands Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Association)
    o WSCA (UK Well Services Contractors Association)
    o OCA (UK Offshore Contractors Association)
    o Step Change in Safety (UK offshore industry safety group)
    o Cogent (UK sector skills council covering the petroleum industry)
    o CAA (the UK Civil Aviation Authority)
    o CHIRP (Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme)   
    o UKOOA (UK Offshore Operators Association)
    o IDSA (International Diving Schools Association)
    o Committee of Employer Signatories to the (North Sea) Offshore Diving Industry Agreement (with the RMT)

    Further information on IMCA, the advantages of membership and its activity on behalf of members and the industry at large is available from or from and from the association at 5 Lower Belgrave Street, London SW1W 0NR.  Tel: +44 (0)20 7824 5520; Fax: +44 (0)20 7824 5521


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