NCC at HVM Catapult Oil and Gas Consortium breakfast

Across the High Value Manufacturing Catapult there is a wealth of capability which has application to the oil and gas sector. As a result, the NCC, AFRC, and MTC have established the HVMC Oil and Gas Consortium which aims to provide a front door to the HVMC in Aberdeen, the European capital of the O&G sector.

The industry is struggling with low oil prices and aging infrastructure in the North Sea but, ironically, this seems to be a good time to be engaging with this important sector, which, in 2014 invested more in the UK economy (£14 billion) than any other sector. During times of $100/ barrel oil, the need to be efficient is less acute than when it is around $40/ barrel and as such there is a remarkable level of interest in anything which can help operators reduce costs, recover more from aging wells and address the challenge of decommissioning old infrastructure which some estimates suggest will cost £40 billion.

The HVMC Oil and Gas Consortium has taken an office in the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre in Aberdeen. This organisation is funded by the Scottish Government to broker links between the needs of the industry and the Scottish universitie,  as such has complementary aspirations to our own, and is the perfect place to be hosted. We have appointed Helen Tulloch to represent our interests because of her 35 years of working in the sector in a number of roles including that as Chief Executive of the Industrial and Power Association. 

Using Helen’s excellent contacts, supplemented with contacts provided by the three centres, the newly formed HVMC Oil and Gas Consortium held its inaugural business breakfast at the Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen and followed this up with two more workshops in Aberdeen’s Exhibition Centre on the following day. In total around 70 senior figures attended the event from companies including Shell, Total, Chevron, Centrica, Subsea7, Siemens, Stork, 3M, the Wood Group and organisations such as the Oil and Gas Authority, Oil and Gas UK, DNV GL, Subsea UK and the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, as well as some of Scotland’s leading universities. 

The three workshops were well received and, based on an electronic polling exercise, we established the most important areas of interest included Additive Manufacturing and Composites.

A number of follow-up meetings have been organised and the Consortium is well placed to align its incredible capabilities with the emerging plans to develop the Oil and Gas Technology Centre. This has been promised an initial £180m of public funding (to be match-funded) over the next 10 years which could allow it to be become the oil equivalent of the powerful Aerospace Technology Institute, which is playing such an important role in the success of the aerospace sector.

This is a conservative industry and one which has a need for products which are totally safe as well as cost-effective. This means we will direct our efforts at identifying candidate applications for composites and working closely with standards bodies. Whilst this won’t result in the over-night switch from metallic to composites there are some applications, such as deep water high pressure pipes, which lend themselves to the use of such materials. Watch this space!

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