North Sea and defence sectors to collaborate on UK energy 'challenges'

The UK’s oil and gas and defence sectors are to collaborate on advanced underwater technology to solve some of the energy sectors big “challenges”, Subsea UK has revealed.

Subsea UK, through its technology arm, the National Subsea Research Initiative (NSRI), has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC) .

It is hoped that by working together, the two industries can “accelerate the development” of underwater robotics, unmanned operations and sensors.

The UK subsea sector, represented by Subsea UK, claims it is primarily focussing on underwater engineering and technology for the oil and gas industry but, more increasingly, for offshore wind and marine renewables.

The sector generates around £8 billion per annum and supports 45,000 jobs.

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, said: “This cross-industry collaboration is the result of eighteen months work to explore the best approach to derive maximum mutual benefit for both sectors.

“Digitalisation is bringing forward a number of technological solutions we could only have dreamed of before and will help revolutionise our industry.

“There will be areas in which the defence sector is more advanced than oil and gas and vice versa but this collaboration opens up a channel of communication and cooperation which will pave the way for us to carry out focussed, in-depth research and achieve the previously unimaginable.”

Subsea UK said the new collaboration plan follows a series of workshops held at Subsea UK with NSRI facilitating sessions between subsea technology leaders, oil and gas operators and The Royal Navy.

Tony Laing, NSRI director of research and market acceleration, said: “This is an exciting partnership across sectors, bringing the fusion of technologies from the physical, digital, security and biological, into industry led opportunities.

“It will help contribute to a paradigm shift in our industry with the over-arching goal of improving safety, developing efficiencies, with potential to optimise oil and gas production, reduce life of field costs and create a more competitive landscape.”

Andrew Cunningham, executive director for Innovation at UKDSC said: “This partnership will allow for knowledge to be shared between two well developed industries in a way that we’ve never done before.

“Taking a cross sector approach will enable a more cohesive approach to the development of these future technologies, generating a better return on investment, and supporting the UK prosperity agenda.”

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