Reinvention, New Realities Central Theme of Offshore Europe 2017

Topics: Offshore

The latest edition of the biennial SPE Offshore Europe conference and exhibition will once again bring together top industry professionals, engineers, educators, and students for a week of discussion on the pressing topics facing offshore exploration and production (E&P).

Under the banner of this year’s theme, Embracing New Realities: Reinventing Our Industry, Offshore Europe 2017 will feature several sessions and presentations aimed at helping attendees better understand the changing landscape surrounding the industry in the wake of the oil price downturn, increased focus on renewable energy sources, the Great Crew Change, and more.

The conference will be held at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre in Aberdeen from 5–8 September. Here is a look at some of the events scheduled to take place.

Opening Plenary Session

van Beurden







The first day of the conference will feature a group of chief executives sharing insights on the oil and gas industry’s changing landscape. Petrobras chief executive officer (CEO) Pedro Parente, Wood Group CEO Robin Watson, Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, and BP Group CEO Bob Dudley are scheduled to speak at the opening plenary session on 5 September.

Dudley will underline the value of the UK North Sea in BP’s portfolio at the session. BP expects to bring two of the largest new developments in the area—the Quad 204 redevelopment and the Clair Ridge project—into production over the next year while continuing to invest in other North Sea assets. Over the same period, the company will participate in five exploration wells in the area and in around 50 new development wells over the next 3 years.

BP’s production output in the North Sea is expected to increase to 200,000 BOPD by 2020, approximately double its output in 2015. Dudley referred to the company’s North Sea business as one of its “crown jewels.” Shell has an extensive North Sea portfolio, and Wood Group provides services for several fields in the region, including the Balmoral floating production vessel in the central North Sea and the Solan field.

Conference chair Catherine MacGregor said the plenary session speakers will be valuable for setting the conference’s agenda.

“It is testimony to the relevance of the North Sea that these industry-leading CEOs with global portfolios have agreed to speak at the opening plenary session,” said MacGregor, president of the drilling group at Schlumberger. “Their insights will set the stage for the largest and most topical technical conference and exhibition in Europe, reflecting the strategic, commercial, behavioral, and technology challenges that will shape the future of the industry.”

Keynote Sessions

On 6 September, a keynote panel session will address cyber and physical attacks on the industry to help delegates understand the risks, manage detection of threats, and defend their companies against malicious actions.

Deirdre Michie, CEO of Oil & Gas UK, will chair the session. David Stupples, director of electronic warfare systems research at the University of London, will discuss his cybersecurity research, focusing on cyberattacks on supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner is scheduled to participate in the panel along with Dominic Armstrong, president of the risk management and intelligence consultancy Herminius.

“The cyber threat is no longer an emerging risk but one that is forcibly having a severe and hazardous impact on day-to-day operations,” said Sue Frye, director of Europe, Caspian, and Sub-Saharan Africa events for SPE. “Understanding and managing the risks is the responsibility of everyone in the sector, from rig workers to investors.”

The cybersecurity session is one of several keynotes that will be presented during the conference. Another keynote on 6 September (“It’s All About Us—the Human Factors Behind Safety Statistics”) will focus on the increase in industry-related fatalities from 2015 to 2016 as reported by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). Panelists will discuss the issues behind this increase, ranging from squeezed margins to job uncertainty to other environmental factors. IOGP director Gordon Ballard is scheduled to moderate this discussion, and panelists will include Lee Stockwell, general manager of deepwater safety and environment at Royal Dutch Shell; Dik Gregory, director of the GS Partnership; and Rhona Flin, professor of industrial psychology at Aberdeen Business School.

On 7 September, a keynote panel will be devoted to the Great Crew Change and the digital era. The session (“A Sustainable Future? Finding, Developing, and Retaining Tomorrow’s Talent”) will look at the level of attraction the oil and gas industry has for future generations joining the workforce, as well as the challenges the increased focus on renewables will have on talent attraction and retention. David Clark, regional president of the UK and Africa at Aker Solutions, will moderate the panel. Panelists include Wonuola Scott, principal data transformation analyst at IHS Rushmore Reviews; Huda Al Ghoson, executive director of human resources at Saudi Aramco, and Vera Kirikova, human resources director at Rio Tinto.

Decommissioning Zone

This free-to-attend exhibition will include more than 20 decommissioning technology and service providers as well as a conference theater programmed in association with the industry’s key associations, including Decom North Sea, the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF), iMechE, and the Society for Underwater Technology (SUT).

The Decommissioning Zone is a featured project from Fairfield Energy, an independent North Sea operator that is in the process of decommissioning its Greater Dunlin assets and transitioning from an oil and gas producer to being a decommissioning-focused operator. Fairfield will share insights and lessons learned since it stopped production at the Dunlin field and the Merlin and Osprey subsea satellite fields in 2015. This presentation will include updates on the following:

  • Fairfield’s 45-well platform plug-and-abandon program and the techniques applied
  • a 16-well subsea plug-and-abandon program
  • infrastructure decommissioning options and next steps
  • consultations of stakeholders and regulators
  • Fairfield’s future plans beyond Dunlin through its parent company, Decom Energy

The Decommissioning Zone will also be the main base for the OETV film crew where many interviews with speakers, exhibitors, and visitors will take place.

Inspire Programme

SPE’s Inspire Programme is a series of activities, workshops, and lectures specifically focused on supporting and informing young people who are interested in joining the oil and gas industry or just beginning their careers. By engaging with local schools, universities, and young professionals, these programs aim to encourage interest in the industry and other STEM topics. Developed by the Inspire Program Committee with support from the Young Member Engagement Committee, the program will have a visible presence at Offshore Europe

School Engagement Program. The School Engagement Program will bring students from around Scotland in contact with experienced and young professionals who will share their insights on various engineering topics while also highlighting the importance of focusing on science and engineering during their school years. Students will have the chance to meet with various companies, ask questions, and tour the exhibition hall. The program will take place on 6–7 September and is invitation only.

Young Member Programs. University-level students and young professionals will attend a series of activities addressing skills and concerns for those starting their careers in the oil and gas industry. Events include one-to-one meetings with experienced professionals, communication skills and CV writing workshops, and keynote lectures covering how the industry will change and develop in the years ahead. 2017 SPE President Janeen Judah is also scheduled to give a presentation on the future for women in the industry. 

SPE Cares—Beach Cleaning at the River Don. SPE Cares will work with the Marine Conservation Society, a UK-based environmental protection charity, to arrange a beach cleanup on the north side of the River Don on 8 September.

OPITO School Tour. Industry leaders will discuss opportunities in oil and gas with local school pupils at an invitation-only event on 8 September.

A full program is available at

Technology Zone/TechTrek

The Oil & Gas Technology Centre’s Technology Zone will present a series of technologies used in alternative sectors to encourage industry adoption of new products and processes such as robots, composite materials, additive manufacturing, and augmented reality.

The Technology Zone will bring together startup companies with small- and medium-sized enterprises to showcase their ideas and solutions. There will be a series of short presentations followed by a question-and-answer session with the Technology Centre’s board and leadership team on its priorities and ways to get involved.

“Technology transfer from other industries can offer major benefits to the oil and gas energy, but they require encouragement,” said Gareth Rapley, SPE Offshore Europe exhibition director. “The Technology Zone will ask questions of the way industry does things and how new technology can be used to lower costs, increase efficiency, and improve recovery in this new reality for the oil and gas sector.”

In addition, TechTrek will highlight new technologies, productions, and industry solutions launched within the past year. Exhibitors at the event are invited to submit up to three products for consideration with the final selection made at the discretion of the organizers.

Reinvention, New Realities Central Theme of Offshore Europe 2017

Stephen Whitfield, Senior Staff Writer

12 June 2017

Volume: 69 | Issue: 7