SPE Offshore Europe: Industry tackles new tech, new practices and low carbon

A low carbon future is on the agenda for the offshore industry, as is the challenge of adopting new tech, new practices and the no small matter of recovering from a lull for the sector. Torque reports on Aberdeen’s SPE Offshore Europe Show…

The future of energy, and where we get it from, is an enduring concern and has become so high profile in 2019 – not least through the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ protests – that it even managed to stop the UK talking about Brexit once or twice. No mean feat.

Aberdeen’s SPE Offshore Europe show returned in September against this potentially tricky background, as well as contending with an offshore industry that has been in something of a slump.

Nevertheless, the show brought in 38,000 visitors – proof that the energy industry is steadily continuing to emerge from the downturn, according to the show organiser.

950 exhibitors, including 125 new names, showcased goods and services at the 2019 show. Delegates arrived from 119 countries, with 37 nations among exhibitors on the show floor including Singapore, China, Nigeria, Guyana and Brazil. There were 14 international pavilions – including Canada, the USA, Norway, Finland, Netherlands and Italy.

Addressing the potential of a low carbon future, this year the show introduced a new Energy Transition Hub, which was integrated into “all aspects of content in the event”, said the organisers.


The exhibition side of the business was supported with 12 keynote sessions and no less than 86 technical papers. One of which delved into future tech and looked at the impact of that old favourite, Industry 4.0, on the offshore industry.

The psychological factors that hold back on the introduction of technological innovations in the oil and gas industry – like risk aversion and reluctance to change - was the topic of research from Robert Gordon University (RGU) and the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC). Evidence was found that a number of factors impact on an organisations receptiveness to new technology – which is seen as crucially important to the unlocking the full potential of the industry. Dr Ruby Roberts, Research Fellow, RGU, said: “Technological innovation offers solutions to several of the key challenges that the industry faces including decommissioning, sustainability, maintaining low production costs and asset health. It is a key component of the Oil and Gas Authority’s Vision 2035 for transforming and revitalising the industry for the future, so understanding and overcoming barriers to innovation is vital.

“Compared to other sectors, the oil and gas industry has a set of unique characteristics that has the potential to hinder technology adoption. When compared to other industries, which tend to invent and implement new technologies quite naturally, oil and gas can be slower to innovate.

“We’ve known this anecdotally for some time, but our research with OGTC is revealing how particular behaviours and thought processes are impacting the industry. At leadership level, we’re confident that there is a willingness to drive new technology and this is being backed up by a newer generation of workers entering the workplace.”

Professor Paul Hagan, Vice Principal for Research and Deputy Principal at RGU, added: “The Fourth Industrial ‘Digital’ Revolution is driving rapid evolution of technology leading to fundamental changes in the way we work. If we are to benefit fully from the power of this new technology we need to understand how to overcome the psychological barriers to technology adoption and deployment. These barriers may not be unique to the oil and gas sector. Every industry needs to adapt. So, the potential impact of this project in realising economic benefits is huge.”

While the sector grapples with those big topics and more in the interim, the next edition of SPE Offshore Europe has been tabled for 7-10 September 2021, once again back in Aberdeen. www.offshore-europe.co.uk



As you’d expect with being based in the oil capital of Europe, our customers are predominantly in the Oil and Gas business. Offshore Europe is a fantastic opportunity for us to connect with new and existing clients from around the globe.

It was still a big decision as to whether we would exhibit or not with the industry having faced a difficult few years. One of the things that swung our decision was that it was the first major event to be held at TECA – Aberdeen’s brand new event centre.

It absolutely was a good decision. Although visitor numbers were up on the previous event there was a feeling that there were less people visiting exhibitor stands. However, we found the quality of conversation was better than previous events. We’ve always found it difficult to trace sales back to exhibitions but this one was different. We’ve already seen a level of direct business that has justified exhibiting.

Although we were promoting the increased range of hand tool brands we now stock (Beta, Bahco, Facom, Stahlwille, Stanley, Teng), we were really highlighting how we can help our customers with productivity gains.

We’re a very active sponsor of TAU Racing, a team of students from Aberdeen University who build a car to compete in the IMechE Formula Student competition. We’d introduced the 5S methodology to them and helped them to develop toolkits and systems of work to boost their productivity. They displayed their latest car alongside the toolkits and were glowing ambassadors for both the products and how they work with Grampian Fasteners.

It’s a really interesting time with a few key themes dominating the agenda. The importance of the transition to renewable energies was already known but it’s been elevated after climate change protests. On the same topic of climate change, there’s also a drive for the industry to support a net-zero economy by cutting emissions from production operations as well as the need for carbon capture projects. The Oil & Gas Technology Centre continues to support the introduction of technologies which will maximise economic recovery as well as decommissioning in the North Sea and can then be exported around the world. Far from being a dead-end industry, there’s an exciting transition happening with companies who are resilient, know how to adapt and want to provide solutions for our future.


This article was originally published in Torque's Nov-Dec 2019 edition. Read the whole magazine online, or get a free subscription here