Velda Addison, Hart Energy

As the saying goes—at least among energy pros—when life gives you lemons, make an electrochemical battery.

Some companies and industry groups in the subsea oil and gas sector are concocting recipes, if they haven’t already formulated one, to keep their heads above water in the downturn.

Lower commodity prices and profits have kept some upstream oil and gas projects on the back burner as the quest toward sustainable cost savings continue. But offshore wind opportunities are blowing into the picture, and the National Subsea Research Initiative (NSRI) and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult are among the organizations that are encouraging subsea supply chain companies to diversify. In the end, it could be a win-win for both subsea and wind energy companies.

One way is helping the offshore wind industry come up with solutions to some of its subsea technological challenges. Areas include cables and electrical infrastructure; environmental conditions; installation; operations and maintenance; and substructures and foundations, according to the NSRI and ORE Catapult. The two organizations are putting on an event in Aberdeen on Oct. 4 to offer insight on each of the areas.

“Solutions will be grouped using the adopt, adapt, develop, collaborate principle,” NSRI said in a news release. As explained by NSRI:

  • Adopt refers to existing solutions in other industries that can be adopted by offshore wind;
  • Adapt refers to existing solutions which may need some short-term work to be suitable for offshore wind;
  • Develop refers to longer-term solutions still to be developed; and
  • Collaborate highlights opportunities for operators, developers and academia to work together to bring about positive change.

Following the event, the NSRI said it will release its findings and technology roadmaps, which will help subsea companies to identify potential business areas.

“Subsea supply chain companies have the skills and experience to make the most of these opportunitiesas they look to diversify into other sectors to mitigate some of the current challenges faced by the sustained low oil price,” said Gordon Drummond, project director of NSRI.

Other efforts promoting subsea diversification have been made by Subsea UK and Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s main economic development agency. Both are encouraging companies to expand into the renewables sector. Earlier this year, Scottish Enterprise published its “Seize the opportunity: offshore wind” guide, stating global spending in offshore wind could reach 210 billion British pounds, orUS$273 billion, over the next 10 years.

Project management, array cables, substation structures, turbine foundations and secondary steelwork are among the areas where subsea companies can find business, according to Scottish Enterprise.

“Offshore wind is a proven technology. But the industry remains reliant on policy support and governments across Europe are looking to the industry to reduce costs,” Scottish Enterprise said on its website. “This combination of global growth and a desire to reduce costs makes offshore wind hugely appealing for Scottish oil and gas companies looking to diversify into new sectors.”

Such opportunities aren’t limited to the U.K. Wind energy is picking up speed in the U.S., and offshore wind capacity is also growing in China and Japan.

Velda Addison can be reached at