IRO : A sustainable offshore industry, innovation is key



Industry's View, IRO, MH Magezine, Sander Vergroesen


iro_homeThe international community faces an important challenge to implement the Paris Agreement (UN 2015), substantially reduce CO2 emissions and limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C or lower. A fast transition to a new, low carbon energy system is therefore required. This challenges oil and gas companies to think and act differently. To stay at the forefront of economic development, the industry has to come up with cost reductions and smarter solutions. In one word: embrace innovation.


Oil and gas will continue to play an important role in the global energy mix for decades to come. Despite uncertainty, the market will recover and there will still be opportunities. Given the maturity of many fields, both onshore and offshore, the current low commodity prices and the competitive sale prices, a (huge) increase in decommissioning activities over the coming years is expected.

Besides that, we see another significant opportunity for our industry and that is the emergence of the offshore wind industry. IRO members play an important role in the installation/construction of offshore wind farms and make use of the experience and technology developed over the last 45 years for the offshore oil and gas industry.

As the economy is moving towards a renewable future, this presents an opportunity to re-use existing infrastructure to support renewable investments before safe and sustainable decommissioning. A Netherlands Masterplan for Decommissioning and Re-use (EBN) has been created with the vision to ensure a safe, efficient and effective Dutch decommissioning market continually reducing costs and minimizing residual footprint.

In the current situation, the main players in the offshore energy domain, the gas sector on one hand and the wind energy sector on the other hand, are largely operating in rather separate worlds. Overall operational efficiency, economics and environmental performance could be significantly improved by (partly) sharing infrastructure, offshore services, human capital, products and knowledge. Such an integrated energy system would allow for optimizing the efficiency of the system and make it more robust regarding security of supply, as well as more flexible in coping with fluctuations in supply and demand. TNO’s report System Integration Offshore Energy: The North Sea Energy Innovation Project describes the options and gives examples of opportunities if innovative efforts are accelerated in the Dutch offshore energy domain and sets a framework in which innovation could be executed to realise an integrated energy system.

Another initiative from the industry is Our Oceans Challenge, an open online innovation platform launched at the end of 2016, which connects the offshore industry with practical, viable solutions by identifying industry wide sustainability challenges, and raising industry responsibility and awareness. A sustainable offshore industry through collaboration by all industry partners.

IRO fully embraces these initiatives that are aimed at creating a sustainable and responsible offshore industry. It once again emphasises the strength and flexibility of our industry to adapt to changing challenges in an innovative way. I am proud to be part of it!

Sander Vergroesen

Managing Director
IRO – The Association of Dutch Suppliers in the Oil and Gas Industry and Offshore Renewable Industry