The synergy between offshore oil and gas and offshore wind

The Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (NOIA) conference is underway. Over 1,000 delegates are in St. John’s to discuss exploration, production and development activities in Canada’s offshore oil and gas industry, and the future of the province.

With such a focus on offshore oil and gas in my city this week, there’s no better time to talk about how companies engaged in this sector can look to offshore wind energy as a diversification opportunity.

Offshore oil and gas companies can leverage their expertise to be successful in offshore wind.

I recently collaborated with the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association (NEIA) on a study of the province’s capacity to support an offshore wind energy sector (full report available here). In preparing the report, I drew upon multiple studies completed in Scotland that qualitatively and quantitatively assess how offshore oil and gas companies can leverage their expertise to be successful in offshore wind.

I encourage you to check out one report in particular, prepared by BVG Associates for Scottish Enterprise (available here), which identifies nine areas that present the greatest opportunities for oil and gas companies to diversify into offshore wind (BVG Associates 2016):

1. Project management - Oil and gas companies have the experience in managing complex projects in the offshore environment.

2. Array cables - Manufacturing array cables for offshore wind requires similar skills and equipment to oil and gas umbilical manufacture.

 3. Substation structures - These are typically one-off designs, similar in scale to oil and gas platforms.

 4. Turbine foundations - The fabrication skills used in oil and gas can be harnessed to produce serially manufactured structures.

5. Secondary steelwork - An accessible market for companies without the capacity for foundation manufacture and entry may not require new coastal facilities.

6. Cable installation - Most contractors in this market have oil and gas experience and have learned to adapt to the significant new challenges that the complexity of offshore wind contracts presents.

7. Installation equipment - A considerable number of companies have diversified from oil and gas into areas like cable handling equipment and trenching and burial tools.

8. Installation support services - Many oil and gas companies have experience of working offshore which can bring real benefits to the offshore wind industry in subsea services (e.g., diving and ROV services) and onshore activities (e.g., marine consultancy).

9. Maintenance and inspection services - Oil and gas experience in offshore logistics can shape evolving strategies in offshore wind.

Closer to home, the US offshore wind energy sector is taking off, and the importance of oil and gas experts in supporting offshore wind energy development is well-recognized. In fact, the theme of the 2017 Offshore Wind Executive Summit in Houston, Texas is “The parallels of wind, oil and gas.” I believe it’s only a matter of time before we see offshore wind in Canada and I know Newfoundland and Labrador, with our world-renowned offshore oil and gas expertise, is well-positioned to be a key player.

I see potential for this province in offshore wind. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss this potential. I also invite you to join me and other like-minded firms in exploring opportunities as part of NEIA’s Offshore Wind Energy Working Group.