Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We're Riding the Waves

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We're Riding the Waves

Article excerpt

Integration is the key word as the offshore industry looks increasingly towards a global market place. Geoff Race, director of the Northern Offshore Federation, explains the new challenge ( and new opportunities coming with sustainable energy and nuclear decommissioning.

It has been a busy year indeed for the region's offshore module fabrication sector.

Amec on the Tyne completed and "sailed away" a massive 300,000-tonne deadweight floating, production, storage and offloading vessel, which had provided a wealth of work opportunities within the region's supply chain.

And work also started at the same yard on two fabrication projects for the oil giant BP.The BP Clair and BP Rhum fields provided a natural follow-on for the yard's skills, and so again provided continuity for the region's supply chain through sub-assembly work on projects being carried out by McNulty on the Tyne and Heerema at Hartlepool.

But what a difference a year can bring in the boom or bust cyclical nature of offshore fabrication.

The latter two projects are nearly completed and due to "sail away" from the Tyne in the second quarter of this year ( leaving a big hole.

Sadly, talk of lay-offs has dominated conversation since the turn of the year.

Adding to this, the recently published United Kingdom Offshore Operators activity survey did not make good reading for our traditional North Sea markets, indicating increasing commercial pressures driven by a declining production profile. In short, the trend to spend more, while producing less, is unsustainable.

That's the bad news, but there is also good news.

There have been new entrants into the North Sea, and the Canadian company Encana had great success with drilling and proving a new find north-east of Aberdeen, which has become a project of immense size.

The field is named Buzzard and, at the start of the year, the 10,000-tonne utilities deck was awarded to Heerema at Hartlepool, in the face of fierce international competition. …

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