Hardship scheme for members impacted by COVID-19 downturn job losses

We know times are tough for our members, in many of the sectors where they work. For those in the offshore oil & gas industry the current low and volatile oil prices places some of our longstanding members at risk of redundancy, or if they’re working as contractors there’s a higher than usual risk of not being able to find paid work.

To help our members through this time we’ve taken the decision to set up new schemes that will cover the cost of retaining individual membership of SUT through to June 2021 for technical and engineering staff who meet the following criteria:

  • Engineering and technical staff made redundant from existing corporate members can apply for a free individual membership running through to June 2021. Members in this category will get all the normal individual membership benefits with the exception of being able to stand for SUT Council positions.
  • The SUT will also setup a ‘hardship scheme’ to cover membership costs of existing active individual SUT members made redundant or unable to find paid work this year (2020). Again, this will cover their membership through to June 2021. Access to this scheme will be limited to people who have been active individual members for at least 12 months, prior to February 2020. 
  • Awards of membership will be decided on an individual basis by the SUT CEO and be dependent on the applicant being able to demonstrate active membership of the SUT, examples of this could be work supporting a regional branch, committee or special interest group.

This offer is effective immediately – please contact jane.hinton@sut.org or cheryl.burgess@sut.org to apply.

So please, stay healthy and safe, stay engaged with SUT through our increasing number of online events and the weekly Podcasts, & get in touch if there’s anything we can do for you.

Podcast 6, & Climate Change Seminar

Episode 6 of the SUT Underwater Technology Podcast will be released on 20th May – see https://SUT.buzzsprout.com and the recording of 18th May’s online seminar by SUT President Professor Ralph Rayner on ‘Climate Change and the Ocean’ can be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/WKGmxTV40_A

Note that we had our first instance of people trying to hijack one of our live seminars yesterday during Ralph’s broadcast, so in future sadly we’ll need to pre-register viewers or switch to a different means of broadcasting. Apologies for anyone who wasn’t able to view the presentation live after we had to close it down and relaunch invitation-only.

Episode 4 – Underwater Technology Podcast

Episode 4 of the SUT weekly podcast is now available here  and will shortly be available from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and others too – search for ‘The Underwater Technology Podcast’

This episode SUT CEO Steve Hall interviews leading oceanographer Professor Rachel Mills, Dean of the Faculty of Environmental & Life Sciences at the University of Southampton, UK. Professor Mills talks about diving to the mid-ocean ridges on board research submersibles such as ‘Alvin’ and the Russian ‘Mir’, a life in science, and the new opportunities made possible by remote operated vehicles, new sensors and autonomous systems. 

New online training courses

In another new initiative to provide value & new knowledge to members unable to attend events & training in the usual way during COVID-19 lock-down, we’re starting a series of free-to-members training seminars, with the 1st to take place Tuesday 12th May, 1300hrs on the subject of “Technology Readiness Levels – not just a tool for oil & gas” presented by SUT Chair David Saul – for more information and to register please go to https://www.sut.org/event/sut-uk-online-training-seminars-no1-technology-readiness-levels-12th-may-2020-1300bst/

CEO Update for 1st May 2020

Dear members & friends of SUT – what an extraordinary period the last few weeks have been for all of us. All over the world, the outbreak of a virus that can only be fought by our own immune systems, with no cure, vaccine or specialist therapies yet available has powerfully reminded humankind that nature does not recognise political borders, and that to fight such a challenge requires joined-up international cooperation. We’ve seen free-market governments make policy decisions that only a few months ago would have been regarded as unthinkable in order to protect populations and jobs, and we’ve moved wholesale to the adoption of home working and teleconferencing with surprising smoothness and effectiveness. 

SUT has been part of this journey, with our Branches, committees and special interest groups moving to online meetings using Teams, Webex, Zoom, Starleaf, Skype and other platforms. In the UK, the government’s staff retention payments scheme is being applied, so that Cheryl, Emily, Jacqui and Lisa are on furlough, with Jane & I keeping the head office functions, website & activities running until something like normal business resumes. Perth Branch have reduced staff hours for Jennifer & her team, & in the USA Patsy and Araceli are keeping things running smoothly. 

I’d like to thank all of our members for their support and patience while the global situation progresses – I’m delighted to see that even now, in the midst of closures and lay-offs, we are still seeing new people join. 

Alongside COVID-19 the world has also seen record low oil prices, as demand for hydrocarbons has fallen to very low levels thanks to the slow-down of economic activity, lack of air travel, & heating demands falling as we move into Northern Hemisphere spring. Technology moves on, and it’s been striking that in the sunny weather experienced in the UK in recent weeks we’ve regularly seen photovoltaic solar energy provide almost 30% of baseload electricity production, wind energy at a similar level, no coal burn at all, and gas & nuclear making up the balance. Energy-producing companies, recognising the economic, environmental & statutory drivers towards a low-carbon future, are taking energy transition very seriously and I expect by the end of this decade in addition to the now well-established offshore wind industry, we’ll see floating solar and offshore hydrogen production playing a significant part in the energy mix, as well as advances in how we store intermittent energy for release to the grid at peak times. 

A return to ‘business as usual’ may not be what we see after COVID-19, essential national infrastructure could well be seen not as new motorways, runways and railway lines, but as multi-gigabyte internet speeds and the ability to source goods & services locally – even distributed micro-generation & energy storage from a range of sources.

For some of our members this is a tremendous opportunity for innovation and growth, for others it’s a threat and they’ll be worried about how they survive turbulent times. As your Learned Society, SUT is here to help you get through this period in good shape by sharing knowledge, networking in new ways, staying in touch with new developments and exploring the ocean together as a source of wealth, creativity & resources for the future. 

Please keep in touch by following our social media feeds such as @SUT_news on Twitter, the various Branch feeds, our website & LinkedIn messages. Every week I’m releasing a new episode of our Underwater Technology Podcast at https://sut.buzzsprout.com/ & every two weeks there’s a Zoom online seminar early Monday afternoon – see https://www.sut.org/news/ or the events pages to keep track of what’s happening, or email me directly at steve.hall@sut.org

Stay safe, stay well.