Adapting to the Covid-19 and low oil price environment, the offshore industry is pursuing new opportunities, writes IMCA technical director Mark Ford
Faced with a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic pressures associated with it, IMCA has focused on bringing together its members in these unprecedented times. Employing its usual ‘can do’ attitude, the offshore industry has tried to adjust to the impact of the low oil price environment, which has led to restructuring, with significant asset impairments announced by the super majors and the inevitable reorganisation strategies in play.
Some within the IMCA membership have certainly adapted, working increasingly in the offshore renewables sector – a bright spot in the energy sector. Although affected by Covid-19, offshore wind has been unaffected by the oil price crash and the project pipeline remains encouraging. Through our Marine Renewable Energy Committee, IMCA enables this relatively new industry to learn from our members’ vast offshore construction and operational experience, avoiding the unnecessary duplication of costs across a wide range of issues.
“Offshore wind has been unaffected by the oil price crash and the project pipeline remains encouraging”
The IMCA secretariat has been keeping pace with demands and needs on countless fronts, always ensuring that safety remains the ‘golden thread’ running through our actions. We, like so many in the industry, have adapted to working from home where the daily focus has shifted to virtual meetings (including all our regular section and vision meetings, where we listen and act on global developments and concerns) and virtual seminars.
IMCA has played a vital role within the global industry community by relaying information across our membership to encourage the sharing of key protocols, and by taking practical steps to adapt guidance to take into consideration the measures put in place to address social distancing and intensified safety regimes.
For example, IMCA has introduced a short-term approach to key issues such as diver medicals, health certificates and extending vessel inspection report validity. We have seen the ‘can do’ attitude emerge as suppliers and manufacturers have adapted their products to support medical demands and individual specialists have volunteered to support the medical profession.
IMCA has participated in different industry groups, bringing together key associations and professional bodies to focus on addressing vital issues facing both our industry and our collective members. One such issue addressed by our head of marine policy and regulatory affairs, Margaret Fitzgerald, was lobbying regulators and governments on behalf of offshore workers to facilitate crew changes during a time of tightened global port restrictions and border controls. This has been a great concern to member companies eager to see crews mobilised and demobilised. The Industry Group – comprising several offshore associations – worked with IMO, IMO member states and border control agencies to help rectify this situation globally.
What have we learned? Primarily that nothing is certain, and that as the situation continues to unfold within our industry, IMCA as a trade association, will continue to adapt.
Supporting crew changes
The Industry Group comprises international associations IADC, IAGC, IMCA, IOGP, ISOA and the Workboat Association. Our member companies are engaged in essential elements of the global offshore energy sector, where personnel perform a wide variety of specialised roles which are all critical to the daily functioning of maintaining global energy supplies.
The government representatives at the international maritime virtual summit hosted by the British government in early July expressed support for recommendations made by IMO, developed in consultation with industry groups, which encourage all IMO Member States to support crew changes by implementing measures to facilitate movement of key personnel, notwithstanding the tightened border restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.