2017-2018 was again a tumultuous year for the Aberdeen branch of the Society for Underwater Technology. We weathered the storm intact, though we have a few wrinkles to sort out for when we reconvene in September 2018.
We started out the year welcoming the new Events Manager, Jacqui Adams, to her role in SUT and I would like to thank Jacqui for all of her efforts throughout the year, especially since she arrived at one of the busiest periods of the SUT calendar with the detailed organisation of the OSIG Conference to pick up. We also lost our serving Chair, Paul Williams, due to the pressures of his new office but I hope you will join me in thanking Paul for his service over the past three-years and the energy he brought to the Branch Committee.
Before I look back at our calendar of events, I would like to take this opportunity to remark on our Aberdeen SUT Branch Sponsors, BHGE, KD Marine, OneSubsea, Wood Group and, of course, Apache – we would not have been able to develop the range of activities and events without their generous support and commitment.
The oil and gas industry at large and in the North-East of Scotland in particular, is recognised as the major industrial supporter of the SUT. The industry, its companies, educational institutes, non-governmental organisations and indeed, the individuals that are interested to attend our events, or even provide a helping hand, are fundamental to our success in fulfilling the Society’s aims and objectives and we would struggle without them all. The Aberdeen Branch Committee should be proud of the programme it did manage to field in the past 12-months which included.
- Two Subsea Awareness Courses; in November 2017 and May 2018, which hopefully heralds a welcome return of companies putting new and vigorous efforts into training.
- The Christmas Lectures to schools at the end of November 2017, which although not as well attended as in previous years on account of difficult weather conditions, was well received by the ‘stars of tomorrow’ who came along with their teachers to the AECC.
- Our AGM in December 2017 at the Marcliffe at Pitfodels came in for praise and concern in practically equal measures. Praise for showing that we were able to trim our proposals in line with the industry expectations of the day, but a little concern at the message portrayed by the new Chief Executive of the Society, which we have since addressed in the proper manner.
- The Business Breakfast and Networking morning at the Marcliffe in late January 2018, was popular with three excellent presentations delivered to highlight the recovery steps being experienced in the oil and gas industries.
- We may have managed to deliver only five Evening Meetings in the year, but we were trying to develop something a little different for our audiences. “Question Time” in September 2017 restarted the season with expert views and opinions answering members submitted questions. Then we suffered a programme interruption until February 2018 – although we did have lots of activity in between time – when we had an evening meeting on “Automation, Digitalisation and the Remotely Controlled Future”. This was followed by “Changes in the Subsea Landscape” in March 2018 and then “North Sea Decommissioning – What Does the Future Hold?”. This last event was very ably arranged and developed by the SUT+ Team. Finally, in June 2018 we had an evening meeting on “New Ways of Doing Projects”.
- During our break from delivering evening meetings in late 2018, we joined forces with The Hydrographic Society of Scotland and IMCA (The International Marine Contractors Association) to devise and deliver a joint event on “The Leading Edge of Value-Based Subsea Inspection”.
- In March 2018 the SUT was involved with several other local organisations working collectively to prepare and deliver the conference with “NASA in Aberdeen – inspiring the next generation”. The SUT is scheduled to take an even more prominent role in delivering this important event in 2019, so watch this space.
- Finally; to round off our year, the annual SUT Aberdeen Golf Day was held at Peterculter Golf Club where members and colleagues enjoyed a great day out on this challenging course.
Our committee member numbers have remained stable this year and I would like to thank the individuals that make up our committee but also their parent companies for allowing their participation. Jacqui Adams our new Events Manager has performed superbly under difficult circumstances and, as I write this summary we can now welcome Daniele Petrone of OneSubsea to the position of Chair for the Aberdeen branch for 2018 – 2019.
We can be proud of our record and efforts during the past year and I hope everyone on the Aberdeen Branch Committee was able to enjoy a well-earned break over the summer and I look forward to welcoming everyone back to our first committee meeting of the new SUT calendar year on the 4 September at Sir Ian Wood House in Altens.
In addition to our regular committee, we also have an SUT+ committee in Aberdeen, consisting of new industry entrants, whether junior or going through a mid-career transition. The enthusiasm coming from the SUT+ has never been less than impressive and they frequently augment the regular committee events as well as running their own which have included chartership seminars, vessel and drilling rig visits, which are educational and free to attend.
The Subsea Awareness Course is probably the longest continuously running training course related to underwater operations in the industry. It’s something we are proud of here in Aberdeen, and the last year benefitted from the recently revised course material that now is presented to the delegates on tablet. Our presenters, busy oil and gas individuals who give their time, deserve a special mention for maintaining the high profile and reputation the course enjoys.
Over the coming year we are hopeful, given the improving conditions in the industry, that we can re-activate one or two of our short one and two-day courses.
It is difficult to predict with certainty that the downturn is coming to an end, but we are surely closer to it than we are from its beginning. Though 2019 may well not turn out to be plain sailing, we are seeing increased interest in our events and signs that the market is becoming more buoyant. It’s a wave we should be able to catch to reach more people with the Society’s messages in the coming year, though like surfers, we need to be ready. We’ve a good team and some faithful supporters; I think we’ll manage.