The Dutch harbour city Den Helder has grown the last 40 years into a key offshore hub for the Central and Southern North Sea. Now with the transition from Oil & Gas to renewables on the horizon, the region sees a leading role for itself. The city’s North Sea Offshore Event on 1st of June focuses on this transition and the many opportunities it brings to offshore companies. But new energy also means new ways of doing business. And it challenges us to look for alternative futures.
The transition from fossils to renewables calls the current offshore infrastructure into question. 20 percent of the production platforms at the Dutch part of the North Sea are now closed due to low prices and exhausted sources, with more expected. “How gradual and efficient can we make this transition as an industry? And what role can the current offshore infrastructure play?”, asks Director Jacoba Bolderheij from Port of Den Helder, one of the Founding Partners of the North Sea Offshore Event. Offshore Oil & Gas and Offshore Wind are complete different markets that require different approaches Bolderheij says: “The business models are completely different. This effects things like safety, transport, vehicles, insurance and the actual work itself. We address these crucial differences and more at the North Sea Offshore Event, where participants can follow workshops to explore how other offshore companies tackled these new challenges.”
After the workshops in the morning, a network lunch is organised for participants to meet and greet. The afternoon will be filled with presentations from key figures in the offshore industry who will share their insights on stage in theatre De Kampanje in Den Helder. One of the first speakers is Hans Timmers of NWEA, the Dutch association for wind energy that signed the ‘Manifest Gas Meets Wind’, a unique collaboration between the gas and wind industry to utilise innovation to speed up the transition. Timmers will speak about the business opportunities of offshore wind and the cooperation with the offshore gas infrastructure to create a safe, sustainable and affordable energy system. Also speaking is Scott Seater, Managing Director at Vermillion Energy Netherlands, who will share its sustainable energy strategy and the ambitions for renewables and geothermal energy.
Cities of Desire
A different light will be shed on the offshore industry by contemporary artist Tanja Engelberts in her photo presentation. “The metal giants of the gas industry shaped a landscape hidden for the public eyes, but this landscape is also created by that same public. Industry is the result of our desires for technology, energy and progress.” Engelberts sailed two weeks with the walk to work maintenance vessel Kroonborg to experience the offshore life. “The harsh conditions on the North Sea make the offshore industry almost the ultimate symbol of man overcoming nature. Where I had imagined an empty sea both romantic and wild, I found artificial cities of concrete and metal, with constant lights on the horizon. Does this gives us freedom or are we slaves of the lifestyle that this industry helps create?”
The experience resulted in the exhibition Cities of Desire. In Engelberts’ morning workshop Alternative Futures participants can gain experience with her creative research and discover alternative futures for the North Sea. As Engelberts explains: “It pays to take a step back and look at where we are and where we could go. We are slowly becoming more urban in our thinking, but is that also the future that we all want?”
Energy from water
For the North Sea Offshore Event a total of 11 organisations will open their doors to present their choices and ideas in interactive workshops. One of them is DMEC the Dutch Marine Energy Centre, a cross collaboration between companies, institutes and government to explore the possibilities of energy production from water. “It could provide up to 10 percent of European energy needs”, says Britta Schaffmeister from Nextco, one of DMEC’s partners. “The Netherlands has a strong position to fulfil the international export potential of energy extraction from water.” In her workshop Opportunities for Energy from Water for the Offshore Industry participants will learn about energy production from tide flow, waves, sweet-salt transitions and temperature differences. “With the development of new sustainable energy concepts such as energising delta and tidal bridges in combination with internationally recognised certification standards, the conditions are created for better insurable and thereby better fundable projects”, tells Schaffmeister.
And insurances do play a big role in the offshore industry, Nico de Wit from Intramar points out. Together with lawyer Nigel Margaretson and Michel Krediet from accountancy Omnyacc he will address the business challenges of the offshore wind industry in their workshop Business Practises in the Wind Industry. “Wind farm investors shift the risks more towards the executive parties. As a result, wind turbines can end up being double insured by different parties at the same time. And that means less margins for everyone.”
North Sea Offshore Event on 1st of June
The event is open free of charge to professionals from the offshore industry, but registration is required. Every year the organisers aim to host the best offshore event to accommodate networking and gaining industry knowledge. More information in Dutch on the full program and registration is available on Northseaoffshore.nl.