Australian subsea sector set to see major increase in activity

Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

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The Australian subsea oil and gas industry is about to see a significant increase in activity, according to one of the region's leading figures. Marius Martens, the chairman of national industry body Subsea Energy Australia, says that subsea activity is expected to grow to support both new and recently constructed projects.

In terms of new projects, Martens says there are a number of major subsea developments — tiebacks either to shore or offshore facilities — underway in Australian waters.

"These include the Browse, Barossa, and Ichthys Phase 2 projects to the north of Australia," he said.

There is also hope that the long-stalled Sunrise project in the Timor Sea may be finally on the horizon after some promising recent political developments between the Timor-Leste and Australian governments.

"Significant opportunities are also available within the inspection, maintenance and repair, known as IMR, of the now-operational Gorgon and near-operational Wheatstone, Prelude and Ichthys projects off the west coast of the country," he added.

Martens says these latter projects are likely to see a jump in operations and maintenance support activities, an area that is forecast to be a major business growth area for oilfield service and supply companies in this country.

The remoteness and the variety of the Australian projects is likely to mean that subsea contractors involved in these projects will be coming up against some significant and interesting obstacles, according to Martens.

"These Australian subsea tiebacks are over long distances and in some of the most remote areas of the world, and so bring with them unique challenges to be met by our industry. These demands need to be met in a cost-effective manner to deal with what remains a suppressed oil price and competitive gas market.

"In order for the Australian industry to answer these demands, we need to innovate and come up with new ways of doing things."

In order to cultivate such developments Subsea Energy Australia (SEA) — Australia's peak body for the subsea energy services and supply industry — is working towards launching an Australian Subsea Innovation Group, known internationally as a 'cluster'.

"We intend to model our cluster on the very successful Norwegian subsea cluster, which has been operating for over 10 years," said Martens. "By harnessing the unique capabilities and knowledge found in Australia, as a result of our unique set of circumstances, we will be able to not only serve the local market in the future, but bring a differentiated offering to the international market."

The subsea industry will again be a major focus of attention at AOG 2018, with a free subsea industry forum staged at the event. There will also be the popular Subsea Zone and Subsea Welcome Drinks on the agenda in 2018.

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