Recognising sustainability as an opportunity

- collaborative steps towards a more sustainable industry



The development of offshore and subsea solutions has always been dependent on innovation and hard work to solve the problems ahead. We like to identify ourselves as problem-solvers, where a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge and experience are our main assets. This should make us robust in facing the challenges ahead.

And what are the challenges? The challenge of the world is, amongst many things, climate change and environmental degradation. This is reflected by many of the UN sustainable development goals, in addition to the public and political agenda. On the other hand, the challenge of all suppliers is always to make enough money to persist in the market. It is possible though to view these challenges at the same side of the equation, where solution to one problem also solves the other. As the focus on sustainable solutions are high and increasing, the conditions are right and ready for new ways to innovate.

Companies are really starting to understand that they need to provide sustainable solutions and products to be able to remain relevant and survive in the market. What obviously requires effort and investment, is the work needed to spot the opportunities, and put them to life. As Thomas Edison famously said: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed like overalls and looks like work.” Working close to and in the sea, it is reasonable to consider this to be our main arena of opportunity. Not only are we relevant when new solutions related to the renewable market arises, such as offshore wind, solar and tide energy, but being able to provide sustainable solutions in the products we already offer, is becoming more and more important.

In Subsea 7, we have a sustainability group working with many different initiatives. What we see, is that to be able to drive the sustainable solutions, more collaboration is required. The whole value chain with suppliers, sub-suppliers and clients are required to drive a willingness to enable us to make proper changes.

Clients and governments have a very important role to play, by making new and adapted requirements, setting the standard and communicating clearly which way to go, with the cost this comes with. There will be an increased need for collaboration in unconventional ways, maybe with unconventional partners and indeed working together in various alliance models will be a more efficient way of developing and launching ideas and solutions. And every person can play a part.

What product and expertise does your company provide, and how can this play a part in the challenges related to a sustainable future? Viewing sustainability as a lens which everything is observed through, can open a whole new landscape of opportunities.

The deep sea is where we can find the opportunities. The environmental challenges which the sea faces, are multifaceted. Well known examples are plastic and chemical pollution. Another example is negative ecological impact. The key is to understand which specific challenge can become the opportunity to focus on. Challenges and opportunities may also differ depending on where and who the other players are, and the location where we operate. Increasing the attention to the environmental challenges which is specific for that area, may be one way to understand what to focus on. Technology and methods developed for our industry, may be useful in solving environmental challenges not previously recognised or known to us. Moving into new opportunities require new ways of working together.

A great example in Subsea 7, is the BORA Blue Ocean Research Alliance’s™, which Subsea 7 has formed with one of the world’s leading scientific organizations, the National Oceanography Centre (NOC). Joining industry and science to gather valuable scientific ocean data, in parallel to our offshore operations, in areas, depths and at a scale previously impossible to science. Initial projects will include measuring Essential Ocean Variables in usually inaccessible areas through the use of sensor boxes (BORAboxTM). Fitted to Subsea 7’s global fleet of vessels and Remote Operating Vehicles (ROVs), they will increase the global scale of ocean observations. The alliance will help accelerate the development of critical ocean sensing technologies aimed at addressing global issues such as climate change. Data gathered will be shared and analysed by scientists worldwide or used to support wider observing initiatives and datasets shaping major global ocean health assessments. Other key projects involve using ROV technology to search for and obtain footage of undiscovered biodiversity that inhabit remote locations and unexplored ocean depths. Understanding the opportunities, the ocean we work in and the impact that we have in the ocean with our operations and supply chain, makes us aware that we all have a part to play in the sustainable solutions of the future.