Norway’s subsea industry looks to new frontiers

Invest in Bergen met up with Owe Hagesæther, CEO of the GCE Subsea business cluster, to talk about the future of Norway’s subsea sector.

Norway’s subsea industry has experience with providing equipment and services that can stand up to the roughest of seas.

The sector has traditionally worked hand in hand with oil and gas companies, helping to extract fossil fuels from the seabed.

However, according to Owe Hagesæther from GCE Subsea, a growing number of firms are now striking out into whole new industries.

In doing so, they are redefining the subsea sector’s place in the world, and helping to secure Norway’s future as a sustainable maritime nation.                           

Owe Hagesæther, head of GCE Subsea, is optimistic about the future of the subsea sector in Norway

New ocean frontiers

Owe names offshore wind and seafood farming as two promising areas of growth for Norway’s subsea companies.

Within aquaculture, this trend is being driven by the emergence of more and more complex fish farming operations in Norwegian waters.  

“The latest generation of farms are much more advanced than what we’ve seen before. Many of these new designs are massive steel constructions, which need a lot of engineering and maintenance,” he explains.

The aquaculture industry is planning to move more of its operations out into the open ocean in future, which could create greater possibilities for the subsea sector.

“If they’re going to produce salmon offshore, they need totally different constructions that can stand the destructive power of the waves.”

With their hard‑won experience from over 40 years spent working out at sea, Norway’s subsea firms will be there to lend a helping hand.
 


According to Owe, such crossovers between the maritime sectors are both good for business, and good for Norwegian society as a whole.

“Overall, the total market for subsea competence and technology is growing.”

“The ocean industries are predicted to almost double in size worldwide from 2020 to 2030, and it’s important for us to take our fair share of that growth.”

Greater digitalization

Owe believes that one of the greatest challenges facing subsea companies today is the trend towards digitalization.

“We will start to see systems that are far more autonomous,” he predicts. “A lot of the work that is traditionally done offshore, will also be able to be moved onshore.”

This has the potential to create great upheaval in the industry. Yet he believes that it will also deliver a whole range of benefits, not least for people working in the sector.

“Fewer people will be flying out to large oil and gas platforms in the ocean. This will lead to higher efficiency and lowering costs, but will also mean greater safety for workers.”
 


One of the biggest challenges will be around managing the digitalization in the right way, so that it provides benefits for everyone.

“You want data to flow freely, across company borders,” Owe states. “Yet creating this data has a cost, and further down the line there may be further costs added when analysis is carried out.”

He believes that technology will only be half of the solution in these cases. “We might also need whole new business models within the subsea industry, and I don’t think this should be underestimated.”

“We’re probably going to need to do business in a way that hasn’t been done before.”

GCE Subsea makes a difference

Luckily, the people at GCE Subsea are working on solving this very problem. Owe tells us that his organization regularly runs projects where companies can discuss and solve these issues.

The GCE Subsea business cluster organizes a range of networking events, including this successful ‘speed-dating’ forum in 2017

“We provide a forum, where firms can arrive at solutions together. This is especially important for small companies, of course, because they might not have access to the same level of knowledge.”

This isn’t all that GCE Subsea does; the cluster organization also provides support to firms that are venturing into foreign markets, encourages subsea-related startups and SMEs, and helps local students to enter into the ocean industries.

If you’re an international subsea company that is looking to establish a base in the Bergen region, Invest in Bergen can also offer crucial support.

The organization can provide information, introductions to useful contacts, and even helps companies to find their ideal business location in Greater Bergen. If you’re interested in these services, simply get in touch with us today.