Offshore Oil and Gas sector adapting well to Covid-19 challenges

August 14, 2020

Offshore Oil and Gas sector adapting well to Covid-19 challenges

14th August 2020, UAE: For its Seventh Webinar in the Covid-19: A Leadership Perspective series, The Maritime Standard turned the spotlight onto offshore, oil and gas, a sector that is vital to the economies of the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. The Webinar highlighted how the industry has adapted to the crisis by accelerating its take up of digital technologies, including remote inspections and AI-driven operations, and has successfully integrated working from home practices, despite the inevitable challenges this has posed in this particular sector. Speakers also pointed to positive moves across the offshore oil and gas supply chains to adapt to the transitional energy markets emerging as a result of the added impetus being given to the development of sustainable green energy sources.

 

Overall, the seven panelists, representing a broad cross section of the offshore oil and gas sector, and with many decades of experience between them, were optimistic about prospects, despite the market slowdown and resulting capital project delays and postponements. Paul Shrieve, President, BV Solutions, Offshore and Marine, pointed out that the offshore sector had in effect been hit by a ‘double whammy’ of Covid-19 and a crash in oil and gas prices. “The industry has had to be agile to react to this,” he said. “There are, however, many reasons to remain positive, particularly as the result of the adoption of digital tools and new technology. There are short term challenges for this sector, but there are still plenty of opportunities as well.”

 

  1. Sankaranarayanan, Senior VP, Projects and AMC of Petrofac also pointed to the benefits of digitalisation, such as the use of digital twins for offshore structures and the growing benefits of remote surveying. He added, “I see a slowdown in 2020 but I am not too worried about the years to come. Petrofac has invested heavily in the past in digitalisation and the pandemic has accelerated clients’ willingness to embrace this more, which is leading to big efficiency grains.”

 

Vivek Seth, Senior VP, Marine Services, ADNOC L&S, highlighted the important gains that his company had seen in terms of seafarer safety and wellbeing from using AI as part of a wider digital transformation of the business. “We have to adapt to the new normal or perish,” he said. “Communications, better use of data and collaboration are vital. We need to learn from each other.”

 

Speaking from a tanker owner perspective, Ali Shehab, CEO of Kuwait Oil Tanker Company (KOTC), argued that, “With risks come opportunities and during the pandemic we have seen how our people can be resilient, adaptive and creative. We have to find ways of channelling that spirit into useful areas to capture that opportunity.”

 

The human element was also underlined by Cdr. Sunil Dhulekar, CEO of Arya Offshore. He suggested, “The focus on the mental health of seafarers has been a positive, as has the greater trust in people, as remote working is now universally accepted. We have also seen a change in people’s mindset for the better. Overall, I see optimism, nothing but optimism, for the future.”

 

Similarly, upbeat was Rajiv Agarwal, CEO and Managing Director of Essar Ports, who reported that activity at the group’s terminals was now back to almost 100% of pre-Covid levels. He added, “We plan to continue to invest in modular expansions to our terminals, adapting to changing customer needs and market dynamics, and focusing in delivering environment-friendly operations.”

 

One of the leading suppliers of lubricants to the offshore and marine segment, Lukoil Marine Lubricants, was represented by June Manoharan, Director, who has also detected a steady improvement in market fundamentals. She said, “For the first few weeks there was a lot of uncertainty and concern. Protecting our employees and keeping them safe and having them positively motivated was the need of the hour, and we were successful in doing it. Operationally there was initial disruption, but thanks to our partners, suppliers and understanding customers we have been able to get back on track quickly.”

 

The webinar covered a wide range of topics as a result of questions submitted from the global audience, including issues relating to offshore vessel repair and maintenance, prospects for investment and expansion, and the need for new forms of training, as well as seafarer welfare challenges due to the pandemic. TMS Editor, Clive Woodbridge, said, “This was an overdue chance to get the perspective of leading figures in the offshore oil and gas business, from field construction and development, through to rig maintenance and repairs, offshore vessel, terminal and tanker operations, and support services. There was a very upbeat tone to the discussion and an acceptance that while things will be hard for the short term, some of the changes made to adapt to the ‘new normal’ will hold the sector in good stead for years to come.”

 

Preparations are being made for the 8th TMS Webinar in the series. This will take place on September 9th and will focus on the implications of the pandemic for marine infrastructure development. For more details go to: https://www.themaritimestandard.com/tms-webinar/

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