As Installation Contractors fight to survive in the risk loaded world of EPCI/EPIC Contracting, many are starting to question which technologies they need to retain in order to successfully support their core business of Installation and Subsea Construction. These technologies are sometimes referred to as 'enabling technologies' and are defined as those required to execute the Contractors core business, i.e. they cannot, or should not be out-sourced. To date, most Installation Contractors who are active in deepwater locations Worldwide have treated Remote Subsea Intervention as an enabling technology. However as Remote Intervention in deepwater becomes an established and accepted technology, should it continue to occupy such status within a Contractor's organization?
This paper aims to review the development of Remote Subsea Intervention within Contracting Companies and to examine the criticality of this technology to such Organisations ongoing business. Furthermore, current Remote Subsea Intervention technology appears to have reached a position within the industry where it is considered to be mature and indeed sufficient for today's needs. Whilst this perception may be correct, there is surely a danger in assuming that what we have is 'good enough' and will continue to fulfil the future needs of the industry.
Finally, against a background of the industries need and desire to advance into frontier areas (i.e. ultra deepwater), the paper aims to examine alternative approaches to achieving cost effective, yet reliable and efficient Remote Subsea Intervention in the future.
Recent years have seen many established Subsea Installation Contractors suffer poor financial health resulting from losses incurred during precedent setting, yet low margin deepwater developments executed under demanding contracting terms. The advent of these EPIC type contracts led to increased scopes of work which led many contractors to expand their portfolio of in-house capabilities. In otherwords, previously out-sourced technologies were either developed internally or obtained through acquisition as Contractors tried to mitigate risk by taking control of key equipment and services. Furthermore, significant consolidation took place as the sector tried to address the oversupply, which existed during the 1990's, examples of which are Stolt Offshore/ETPM, Saipem/Saibos and Technip/CSO. However, as the number of deep and ultra-deepwater field developments increase, the supply and demand equation appears to be levelling out, with the availability of key marine assets and engineering resources becoming tight. Yet even within this improving environment, Contractors appear to be re-focussing on their true core business of Subsea Installation and Construction as a way of returning to profitability and managing their risk profile going forward. Part of this re-focussing involves achieving the correct internal/external capability balance through initiatives such as asset reduction, divestment of non-core activities and joint venturing.
But how does an organisation decide which capabilities or technologies are retained and which can be out-sourced?
Figure 1 : Technology Ownership (Available in full paper)
Usually, it is those technologies, capabilities and assets that enable an organisation's core business that are considered essential and therefore retained in-house. Figure 1 depicts this decision making process in simplistic form.