Subsea Expo has celebrated its largest attendance on record after wrapping up the three-day event in Aberdeen.
The conference, hosted at P&J Live in Dyce, attracted almost 6,700 visitors from around the world including the US, Mozambique, India, Kurdistan and Azerbaijan.
Neil Gordon, chief executive of industry body Subsea UK, described the mood as “upbeat”, reflecting “renewed optimism” in the traditional oil and gas sector, as well as the spectrum of other underwater industries.
Almost 200 exhibitors took part in the event, Europe’s largest subsea showcase now in its its 15th year, with a line-up of 70 speakers, many of whom focussed on the energy transition through the event’s theme of “new perspectives”.
Organisers also welcomed 180 school pupils to the expo, which has moved into a larger space from the former Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.
Mr Gordon said: “This event is supported so well because it is organised by industry for industry.
“The new venue has been fantastic, particularly being able to bring international visitors to a complex like this to showcase the kind of technology and companies we have here.”
Mr Gordon said the size of the stands have grown, allowing for improved ability to showcase technologies, while there are hopes to continue to increase the offering of the expo in years to come.
He added: “We’ve not filled the full arena. This venue has got much more scope for us to extend and grow and that’s what we’d love to do over the coming years.”
Subsea UK said the “quality” of visitor has improved, while Steve Gibb of Balmoral Group said the event provided them with an opportunity to interact with a range of companies.
He said: “It’s good face time with clients and what is also important here is Subsea UK has gathered a critical mass of good organisations and good companies that we’ve also had some good interaction with.
“We’re trying to increase visibility and awareness of our Balmoral Subsea Test Centre and we’ve been able to do that amongst fellow members as well.”
Meanwhile Marion Murray from Scottish Development International (SDI), noted strong attendance from overseas visitors.
She said: “I cover Latin America and we’ve had some very key individuals, from Mexico especially, so our Scottish companies have been able to showcase what they have to offer.”
However some others considered the event to be quieter than last year, despite the record attendance.
Amy Grant-Simpson of Crondall Energy said: “We’ve had a few good conversations, we’ve had a few operators, not too many, but a little bit more than I might have expected.
“It does feel a little not quite as busy as it did last year but I think that is to do with the venue, the conferences are outside and the catering is outside so people are not forced to hang about in the exhibition like they were in the old venue.”
Richard Drennan of Viewport 3 also said it felt “not as busy as last year”, adding that although the new venue was more modern, the increased size could make the event appear “a bit more sparse”.
Operators, aside from BP, did not exhibit, while Tier 1 contractors were also largely absent from the exhibitor list.
Wood was one of the biggest companies making a showcase, and Keith Anderson, their subsea and export systems manager, was positive.
He said: “For anyone that has been here in the last few years we’ve certainly seen an uptick in the number of people and the positivity of the folks as well.
“We’re all feeling it in our businesses that things are on the up in the subsea environment but you really start to see it here just now.”
Mr Gordon of Subsea UK did not view the general lack of some of the larger players as a negative point.
He said: “We talk about where are the operators? Where are the Tier 1s? This is a showcase for a lot of companies that want to promote and sell themselves.
“We encourage the companies to come and visit to make sure they’re down here and we do see a lot of those visitors coming down – the operators and the Tier 1s – to come and look at the companies who are here.”
The event focussed on the energy transition which Mr Gordon believes will be easier for subsea companies, many of whom are already working across both oil and gas and renewables sectors.
He added: We’ve always said that subsea has grown up in oil and gas. The subsea sector lies horizontally so it is much easier for these companies to transition into other areas.
“The conversations we were having on the energy transition 12 months ago were totally different to what’s happening now.
“For Companies at the highest level and governments, the energy transition is very much in their thinking of what they’ve got to do.
“They understand its not something they can do here, today and now, but you have to build in that strategy. You can’t just pay lip service.”