Offshore industry faces challenges to cut its costs in line with the plunge in oil prices, delegates were told at the Nor-Shipping Agenda Offshore conference in discussions on 3 June.
Several speakers at the event in Oslo called for greater standardisation, blaming the prevalence of bespoke solutions for delays and higher costs.
Clay Williams, president and CEO of National Oilwells Varco, USA, said rigs are often delivered late and over budget, largely due to problems with supplier interfaces and project management.
José A Gutierrez, director of technology and innovation at rig operator Transocean, called for more innovation, while acknowledging this may not be encouraged by the current business model.
Jan Fredrik Melberg, CEO of offshore services vessel owner Eidesvik, also characterised the industry’s business model as not incentivising innovation.
Referring to timecharter contracts that pass fuel bills to charterers, he asked, “Why should we build ships that need less fuel when the customer pays for the fuel anyway?”
Gutierrez noted that the industry tends to opt for well-tested technology that does little to encourage innovation.
But the potential savings and efficiencies from closer collaboration between organisations were questioned by Tore Ulstein, deputy CEO of the Ulstein group.
“Do you get new solutions if you combine people that have always been together?” he asked. “No, you just get better ways of doing old things.”
A focus on cost savings and efficiencies might deter creative people from working in the industry, he argued.
Innovation can also lead to occasional failures, which the industry should accept while seeking closer co-operation, for example with universities, to bring new thinking into the sector, he added.