New research spotlights opportunities for UK’s offshore energy supply chain

Seven near-term projects in the UK are set to require 30 new wells and 194 kilometers of pipeline, with vessel and rig owners to be especially in demand, according to research conducted by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) and Global Underwater Hub (GUH).

Illustration (Courtesy of North Sea Transition Authority)
Illustration (Courtesy of North Sea Transition Authority)

NSTA has pointed out that it has been working closely with the Global Underwater Hub (GUH) to highlight the impressive scale of opportunity across the supply chain since operators provided it with the statistics for the seven projects in late 2022.

The core study showed that vessel and rig owners will be especially in demand as their services will be needed for more than 5,000 vessel days and nearly 2,500 rig days.

Offshore work on most of those developments is expected to get going this year or in 2024, subject to robust net zero regulatory assessments being passed, which brings significant opportunities for operators and the supply chain to collaborate and capitalize on this visibility when planning for the asset, workforce, and infrastructure availability.

The UK’s regulatory authority said that its Energy Pathfinder portal already made available the details for the Avalon, Cambo, Captain EOR Phase II, Jackdaw, Murlach, Rosebank, Talbot, and Teal West projects, which provides greater visibility of upcoming tendering opportunities. The remaining four of the 12 projects will be added in due course.

Environmental statements for five additional near-term projects were also analyzed as part of the wider study, said the UK’s regulator.

After the study analyzed environmental statements for five additional near-term projects, it concluded that they would require a further 17 wells, 128 kilometers of pipeline, around 3,400 vessel days and 1, 400 rig days.

The numbers show that domestic oil and gas projects will continue to drive economic growth, safeguard employment for hundreds of existing skilled workers, create opportunities for future talent, and boost the UK’s energy security.

The statistics also highlight the substantial volume of rig and vessel capacity required from a supply chain that has faced significant pressures in recent years, amid the prolonged downturn which started in late 2014 and was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Operators are also forced to compete for equipment and skills with other oil and gas-producing regions and the UK’s burgeoning offshore renewables sector, whose continued growth relies on many of the same resources.

Therefore, the study concluded that it is vital that operators collaborate with suppliers and share their plans early, helping ensure that resources are available at the right time and that commitments to support the UK’s service sector are met.

Bill Cattanach, NSTA Head of Supply Chain, said: “This new research provides clear evidence that companies with vessels and rigs on their books can look forward to plentiful near-term project opportunities in UK waters. To fully capitalize on them, effective collaboration across the industry is absolutely vital.” 

The NSTA also said that it plans to continue supporting the service sector by meeting regularly with operators to stress the importance of maintaining good working relations with their suppliers, in line with our stewardship expectations.

Requirements for operators include the completion of Supply Chain Action Plans, which are used to demonstrate that they are generating as much value as possible from their projects through open engagement with suppliers.

Neil Gordon, GUH Chief Executive, said: “It’s more imperative than ever that we have a joined-up approach to these developments which takes account of the vast scale of all opportunities on the horizon for the subsea supply chain. Industry must have confidence in the regulatory environment, leading to visibility and, more importantly, surety of the domestic project pipeline.”