Germany: 500 Experts Expected at SMM Offshore Dialogue

Germany: 500 Experts Expected at SMM Offshore Dialogue

Some 500 industry experts are expected at the SMM Offshore Dialogue, hosted for the second time by Hamburg Messe, with support from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). The workshop is to be held in the framework of SMM 2012, the world’s leading maritime industry fair, at the Hamburg Fair site. The focus will be on Offshore Oil & Gas and Offshore Wind.

The offshore segment is one of the most promising future markets for the shipbuilding and marine equipment industry, as shown by the order book. According to information from the UK shipping analysts Clarksons, there were 993 offshore ships on order worldwide at the end of 2011 – including supply vessels and assembly ships for the offshore wind industry, and platform supply vessels and PSO ships for the offshore oil and gas industry.

In 2011 alone, 352 new orders were taken by the shipyards for construction of offshore special-purpose ships. 403 offshore ships were delivered in the past year. The tremendous growth potential of the offshore sector is driven by the climate conventions for reduction of carbon emissions, the downsizing of the nuclear industry, and the fact that new oil and gas reservoirs can now only be found at sea, i.e. offshore.

The offshore sector not only has great potentials, but also has to face great challenges, as is evident for example in the delays in connection of offshore wind farms to the power grid and in accidents on drilling platforms. These will be among the subjects discussed at the SMM Offshore Dialogue by representatives of the marine equipment industry and the energy industry, by consultants and industry associations.

Offshore Oil & Gas Dialogue – shifting technologies under water

The Session Chairman for the Offshore Oil & Gas section is Walter Kühnlein, Managing Director SEA2ICE, a German consultancy based in Hamburg. He already emphasised at the first SMM Offshore Dialogue in 2010 that more and more oil and gas fields are being found at ever greater water depths, or even in ice-covered regions, and have to be developed there.

A trend which is also reflected in the sessions of the Offshore Oil & Gas Dialogue 2012, featuring presentations such as one by Petrobras, Brazil, which is the world’s fourth largest oil company. Its oil field exploration is moving into depths which have hardly been developed before, in “Pré-Sal”, that is the pre-salt layer on the continental shelf off the Brazilian coast, where it will have to drill through a salt layer up to 2,000 metres thick. Some of the oil reserves there are at depths of 7,000 metres.

“Sophisticated concepts are needed in deep waters, particularly due to the high pressures which exist on the seabed and the length of the vertical pipes through the water,” explains Walter Kühnlein, commenting on the challenges for offshore engineering. He believes that the technology for production of oil and gas will increasingly be moving entirely under water or under the ice surface – “complete drilling and production plants will in future be placed directly on the seabed, to avoid surface influences such as huge waves and ice movement, making the operations safer for people and the environment.”

Insights into underwater technologies are given by Heinr. Bornemann GmbH, Germany, in a presentation on its project within “ISUP – Integrated Systems for Underwater Production of Hydrocarbons”, aimed at construction and operation of subsea oil and gas production facilities. The minimum objective set by the company itself for this project is to work at water depths of 2,000 metres. It should be capable of working at a distance of up to 100 kilometres from the on-shore facilities.

Alongside the challenges for deep sea production facilities, the speakers also address the opportunities and requirements linked to exploration of oil and gas fields. Dr. Bas Buchner, Chairman of MARIN (Maritime Research Institute Netherlands), will give a presentation on research and development in offshore oil and gas production.

Offshore Wind Dialogue – the growing market faces challenges

“The forecasts for the offshore wind industry were previously a good deal more optimistic than they are today,” says Thorsten Herdan, Managing Director of VDMA’s Power Systems Division and Vice-President of the German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation, who will lead the Offshore Wind Dialogue as Session Chairman. Especially in Germany, where energy policy goals for expansion of offshore wind are particularly ambitious, the industry has to struggle with various challenges that will no doubt dominate discussions in this block. They range from grid connection problems to unclarified issues of liability in grid expansion and operation, and uncertainties about investments.

Alongside issues of political framework conditions, the offshore wind industry continues to be characterised by pioneering work. Work is currently proceeding on standardisation of technologies and processes – until that has been achieved, production processes are often expensive and time consuming.

The challenges for design and installation of offshore wind farms will also be covered by Hans Kahle, Managing Director of RWE Innogy Offshore Logistic GmbH, the company responsible for logistics to implement RWE Innogy’s offshore wind projects. RWE Innogy Offshore Logistic GmbH also operates a terminal in Bremerhaven for installation of offshore wind farms, using two specially designed installation ships for this purpose.

Continuing operation of offshore wind farms after their installation is often neglected in discussions about set-up and connection. So the subject addressed by Dr. Felix Ferlemann, CEO of Siemens Wind Power Division, will be “Operation and maintenance”. Siemens expects more than 80 GW of installed wind energy power offshore in Europe alone by 2030. That is equivalent to the output of somewhat more than half the power station fleet currently installed in Germany. According to Siemens, only about 6% of these 80 GW are operational at the present time.

Financing will be addressed by Dong Energy Renewables Germany GmbH. Dong Energy, based in Denmark, is one of Northern Europe’s leading energy groups; it is installing the North Sea wind farms Borkum Riffgrund 1 and 2 and operates numerous offshore wind farms in the waters of Denmark and the UK.

The panel discussions “Offshore Oil & Gas Dialogue” and “Offshore Wind Dialogue” will give participants and speakers opportunities not only to exchange ideas, but also to develop solutions together for current and future challenges for the industry. The focus will be on interaction and synergies between the maritime industry and the offshore oil & gas industry, and between the maritime industry and the offshore wind industry.


Offshore WIND staff, May 29, 2012; Image: Hamburg Messe

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