Keeping pace with the challenges: Oceanology 16

Oceanology aims to bring back intelligence from the field alongside showcasing sophisticated kit
Oceanology aims to bring back intelligence from the field alongside showcasing sophisticated kit
OI exhibition director Jonathan Heastie: “The feedback we’ve been getting is that the industry knows it needs to get on top of any structural issues before they appear”
OI exhibition director Jonathan Heastie: “The feedback we’ve been getting is that the industry knows it needs to get on top of any structural issues before they appear”

There are issues on the table right now that seemed ‘distant possibilities’ not that long ago, and to its credit this year’s Oceanology International exhibition (ExCeL London, 15-17 March), is responding.

For example, the flatlining oil market means there’s a focus on decommissioning and life extension of oil and gas structures reflected in the conference agenda but further the sector’s usual support vessels are also now looking to employment in the wind segment “to butter their bread” explained exhibition director Jonathan Heastie. The crossover potential is obviously a challenge for the status quo and support vessels that offer the right onboard systems at a cost-effective day rate may steal a march on the rest – showcasing advanced kit being a particular OI focus.

Likewise, the entrance of autonomous vessels into the market is not as far off as many might assume: AUVs and their surface counterparts (ASVs) have come out of the realm of science fiction and could soon turn in real benefits for geosurvey, asset inspection, ecopatrols and more. So it’s interesting that OI is bringing together developing technology with reports of real trials and operations; further, the session will also look at the potential for cost-effective swarm deployment.

There are other efficiencies that workboat and dive support boat owners could be overlooking: two words, ‘big data’ retain their potential to strike fear into the heart of anyone more at home with a wrench. Despite this, the technology jump has permeated a number of marine segments, from those who work with 3D imaging to owners who are steadily accruing a huge amount of information via tracking and onboard monitoring systems. So, OI has put together a new conference session dedicated to helping companies find meaningful ways of navigating the datasets.

There are other issues coming to the fore right now: one of the upcoming tasks facing the wind sector is monitoring the structural integrity of their offshore structures, “as there are now a number of wind towers which are reaching mid-lifecycle” explained Mr Heastie, who added that OI is making room for a new session on the subject. Obviously isn’t just a matter for renewables alone, “but the feedback we’ve been getting is that the industry knows it needs to get on top of any structural issues before they appear – management is always going to be cheaper than remedial work”.

There’s a lot more to OI: however ‘strategic thinkers’ should probably be thinking of applying for the prequel event, Catch The Next Wave (CTNW), an invitation-only conference at London’s Royal Institution on 14 March.

This is looking at breakthrough developments presently being incubated in other areas as diverse as robotic surgery, volcanic plume spotting, identification of drifting icebergs, driverless cars and even the mapping extraterrestrial oceans “and how these kinds of technologies will eventually make themselves felt in the maritime industry” said Mr Heastie.

By Stevie Knight

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