Offshore surveys are a necessary precursor for both oil and gas (O&G) and renewable energy installations on the seafloor.
Particularly for new projects in remote regions, surveys (oceanographic, geotechnical, geophysical etc.) are critical for successful project design and implementation. However, current market conditions are forcing all parties in the supply chain to rethink their approach.
Douglas-Westwood (DW) has engaged with industry experts within the market on future strategy and operator expectations. Feedback includes the obvious – “outprice competitors”, “meet highest standards”, “be flexible to operators’ needs” and “specialize” – but this is tough advice for those who are already attempting to accommodate all of these factors whilst trying to remain afloat.
Within the tech-heavy survey sector, however, utilization of new, innovative technologies is particularly appreciated by technical teams within the offshore client base, and continues to be a source of differentiation in a crowded market place.
If widespread automation of offshore assets and survey tools can be accomplished, cost savings will be significant. Autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) developments are therefore likely to play an increasingly important part in the future of the offshore survey market – DW’s World AUV Market Forecast shows a bright future for AUV demand, both for O&G and renewables.
As inertial navigation systems are refined, there is greater scope for exciting new tools to be piloted subsea: the use of technologies such as synthetic aperture sonar, seafloor drills and sea drones is set to rejuvenate operational methods and provide efficiency gains to the wider survey market.
Fresh technology could significantly advance offshore survey operations, acting as a differentiator for smaller companies in a difficult market. However, the ability of tech-driven companies to both invest in R&D and successfully commercialize it through the downturn will have a major bearing on their future prospects.