UK’s subsea exports to pick up in 2017, survey reveals

Subsea UK chief executive, Neil Gordon

British subsea companies are expecting to increase overseas activity in the next 12 months, according to a survey conducted by industry body, Subsea UK.

Subsea UK on Thursday revealed findings from its export survey at the Subsea Expo, the world’s largest subsea exhibition and conference, currently being held in Aberdeen.

According to the survey, of the 300 member companies surveyed, 27 percent are predicting increasing exports by 50 percent or more in 2017. More than half expect overseas sales to increase between 1 and 49 percent with only 17 percent not expecting any increase in export revenues.

A third of companies surveyed do not yet know what effect Brexit will have on their export plans, with 49 percent believing that it will have no impact on their plans.

By comparison, 32 percent expect domestic revenues to remain static in 2017 while 22 percent are anticipating a decline in domestic sales. Of those who expect domestic revenues to increase, the majority are forecasting between 10 and 30 percent additional revenues from the UK Continental Shelf.

Export sales currently account for over half or more of the annual turnover in 32 percent of respondents with 55 percent seeing less than half of their turnover attributed to exports and only 13 percent have no export revenues.

The majority of export sales are related to oil and gas. However, more than half of respondents are also exporting to the renewables industry while others reported exporting to the defense, subsea mining, and ocean science sectors.

Subsea UK chief executive, Neil Gordon, said: “The subsea industry remains a British export success story. These findings underline the global demand for UK subsea engineering, technology, and services and the fact that our enterprising companies are increasing their export efforts in a bid to reduce the reliance on the mature North Sea. It is no surprise that the majority of growth will come other sectors and other geographies.

“Companies must maintain their market share in the North Sea where the focus is squeezing more out of older assets, and late life extension presents opportunities for subsea.”

So-called “small pools” of hydrocarbons in the North Sea would also be significant and would help achieve MER (Maximising Economic Recovery) of the UK’s oil and gas reserves, added Gordon.

“We have to react and adapt to the greater, longer-term opportunities that lie in international waters. Our findings reveal that our subsea companies are doing just that.”

According to the survey, the United States are the largest export market for UK subsea companies, followed by West Africa, South-east Asia, Australia and South America while a third are also exporting to Mexico, China, India, and Russia.

The survey foresees a slight change from 2018 when companies are looking to increase exports to West Africa, South-east Asia, and the Middle-east.

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