The champion organisation for Britain’s subsea oil and gas sector said yesterday it was aiming to more than double international exports to around £6.4billion within the next five years.
The ambitious target was set out by Subsea UK chief executive Alistair Birnie on the second and final day of the annual Subsea 2010 show in Aberdeen.
He said: “Through the UK’s subsea capability, competency and capacity, the sector has become world leading.
“The expertise and experience gained from the pioneering days of subsea oil and gas production in the North Sea is in global demand.
“The UK continental shelf is becoming much tougher to extend with rewards often not able to sustain costs. However international subsea business is set to grow from $40billion (£25.6billion) to around $60billion (£38.4billion) annually in four years and opportunities in renewable energy are starting to become more tangible.”
Mr Birnie said that, for Britain to retain its leading position, it has to transform annual exports from around $4billion (£2.5billion) to around $10billion (£6.4billion) by the middle of this decade.
Mr Birnie said there was a lot to play for in countries such as Egypt, Libya and Russia.
The domestic market is also worth about £2billion a year. Britain’s subsea sector employs around 40,000 people in 750 companies.
Subsea UK was formed more than five years ago and Mr Birnie revealed yesterday its latest business plan.
He said: “Our key objectives this year are to deliver measurable services that make a real difference in the areas of export, skills and technology.
“Collaboration will also be essential for the future and Subsea UK is already working with partner organisations and stakeholders to develop new initiatives such as joint industry projects.
“The skills shortages have not gone away and will very shortly start to constrain growth once more. The industry as a whole has to work together to ensure new skills are developed and a pipeline of emerging talent is coming through.
“The increasing need for new technology to address the challenges of global oil and gas production in deeper waters to secure energy supply means that we must get better and quicker at bringing that technology to market.
“We must be very clear in our approach to new technology. Firstly the focus has to be on meeting real and identified operational need and secondly we must have a clear understanding of what will bring real value to build capacity and differentiate us from overseas markets.
“We worked closely with ITF (the Industry Technology Facilitator) last year on technology around long subsea tiebacks which will offer companies a real differentiator globally.
“Today, we are delighted to announce a new call for proposals from companies to fast-track development of new subsea intervention technology.”