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    Offshore wind industry needs to learn from offshore oil says expert

    News // September 15, 2009
    Offshore wind must not limit the lessons it can learn from offshore oil and gas if it is to become a viable and mature industry, says Nial McCollam of energy services group Senergy.
     
    His message of collaboration on operational as well as technical issues was on the agenda at the European Offshore Wind Conference & Exhibition in Stockholm, the world’s largest offshore wind energy event.
     
    “Following in-depth surveys of senior professionals in both industries, we have pulled together a number of pertinent findings,” explained McCollam. “There are four key differences between the industries that need to be understood and major barriers towards collaboration but there are key synergies that must be exploited sooner rather than later if offshore wind is to move to its next stage of maturity.
     
    “Much has already been said about the need to collaborate on technological and technical challenges. Operating in the harsh and unpredictable marine environment has become second nature to the oil and gas industry. The offshore wind industry still has much to learn about this unforgiving territory.  There is much to be learnt from the oil industry beyond some of the more obvious technical and technological developments.  Many of the key lessons cited by offshore oil and gas industry veterans relate to; commercial and contractual strategies, investment economics and development of strong infrastructure and logistics.”
     
    “In reviewing the key influencing factors of 40 years of oil and gas experience and exploring the synergies, as well as the differences, between this and the emerging offshore wind sector, we have identified areas where key lessons can be learnt.
     
    “The oil and gas industry’s code of practice in terms of sharing infrastructure was a major step forward in exploiting the remaining reserves in the North Sea but, in many people’s view, this took much longer than necessary. While infrastructure in oil and gas is primarily about pipelines and in offshore wind it is about grid, there are definite parallels. Industry and political leaders interested in the rapid development of a world scale offshore wind industry need to think now about how it will develop and manage access to the grid so that the energy resources can be captured and exported efficiently to the domestic and international markets.
     
    “Leadership in the industry is critical. In the nineties, the oil and gas industry set up a leadership team working across the industry and with government to drive changes that would enable it to cope with a much reduced oil price. This leadership approach, although painful in some quarters at the time, spawned some pioneering initiatives which revolutionised the way in which the industry and its supply chain worked.
     
    “The way in which the oil industry set policies and implemented them was critical to its success and offshore wind would do well to learn from this and make sure it goes through a less painful and more efficient process.”
     
     

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