Dozens of projects ran by the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) are facing delays or cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nearly half (47%) of the 150 live schemes underway from the Aberdeen tech accelerator have been affected by the virus, as operators who help test them defer non-essential spending.
Those focussed on exploration and helping to produce more oil and gas, particularly those requiring offshore trials, have been hit hardest.
However, Solution Centre manager Myrtle Dawes said digital projects like robotics, wearable tech and predictive modelling, helping to reduce costs and offshore manning levels, remained “quite strong”.
The OGTC said the majorty of the 47% have had field trials pushed to next year, while others have been “seriously affected” with an “indefinite delay” or cancellation, impacting commercialisation opportunities.
Ms Dawes said: “A lot of our projects, because we’re trying to de-risk, do involve us having developers go offshore and testing things, or testing in labs or workshops.
“50-odd percent had no delay at all because people could work from home, particularly on the digital front and analytics.
“But if it involved someone going into something or someone else having to enable something then that had become very difficult.”
Meanwhile, the OGTC said 20% have seen “medium to high cost escalation” due to delays.
Some have also been hit from the supply chain perspective, with 15% of projects, such as those sourcing robotics from China, have losng links or needing to source from elsewhere.
However, those focussed on decarbonisation and the energy transition “have had hardly any impact at all”.
Ms Dawes said: “We’re still able to garner interest on energy hubs, on coalitions to look into how we’re going to integrate energy across sectors, and even some of the really great technology, you find that a lot of the companies are still interested.
“In terms of energy transition, those who have committed to it have genuinely stayed with us.
“Indeed part of the busyness is actually responding to the demand and forming those coalitions.”
The OGTC opened in 2017, backed with £180m funding through the Aberdeen City Region Deal.
Even then, the belts were “already tight” as a result of the previous oil downturn.
Ms Dawes added: “I suspect this is not the last of the lean periods we’ll see.
“That’s why I remain optimistic and I think we need to get fit in this area of being resilient.
“I think at OGTC, we’re still very busy because the agenda has got bigger and we want to support and make as many of the technologies a success as possible.”