OE15: Time for focus

Offshore Europe is always a staple in the oil and gas industry's calendar. The biggest energy exhibition in Europe, it brings more than 1,500 exhibitors from across the world to Aberdeen every two years.

The general feeling in the build up to this year’s show was mixed amidst the current low oil price with many of the big players including BP and Wood Group deciding not to exhibit this year.

During its 40-year history, Offshore Europe has gained a reputation for freebies galore with the extravagant exhibition stands filled with opportunities to win motorcycles and holidays abroad. Was this the tone of 2015? Well, not quite. But nor was it expected.

Having spoken to several exhibitors, the overall consensus was that important conversations were still being had with genuinely interested professionals keen to hear about new products and network with likeminded people.

In Fifth Ring’s own film series, Editor’s Eye, John Sheehan, editor of Subsea Engineering News, made the point that the low oil price has almost been beneficial, as it’s helped to focus minds - and I couldn’t agree more. The industry has perhaps been stuck in its ways and is now in need of a culture change if it is to have any future in the UKCS.

At a recent Energy Voice panel event Sir Ian Wood noted yet again that billions of dollars have been wasted in the last five years due to companies not collaborating. This needs to change, and quickly.

The theme of Offshore Europe 2015 was ‘Inspiring the Next Generation’ and it couldn’t have been more appropriate. Speaking with the CEO from a new technology company at the show, he remarked that the industry needs young people to break down what he called the industry’s “permafrost” – a reluctance to fundamentally change the way things are done from the top down. His fledgling company is growing quickly and, tellingly, is formed of expert engineers with no prior oil and gas industry experience.

It is new and innovative approaches and technologies like this that will allow us to continue to maximise recovery in the North Sea.

Still a relative newbie to the oil and gas industry it may sound crazy to say, but I think this is an exciting time to be a part of it. Although news of redundancies and low oil price has dominated the headlines in the last few months, we are beginning to see the signs of quiet optimism with new equipment launches and companies working together in a way they’ve never done previously.

Companies are beginning to make changes, with a strong focus on cost cutting technologies and collaboration to ensure the industry becomes more efficient. Only time will tell if we are learning from this price crash to ensure the industry runs like a well-oiled machine.