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The Norwegian offshore industry has given rise to some of the world’s leading maritime clusters. Now many of these are steering towards sustainability.
GCE Subsea has long been one of Norway’s most prominent industrial clusters in offshore technology, but is now heading full speed into new, fossil-free ocean industries. Taking full advantage of petroleum expertise and technology, the cluster members are establishing themselves in blue growth markets such as aquaculture and offshore renewable energy. To reflect the expansion from a traditional oil and gas cluster to encompass innovative ocean industries, the cluster has changed its name to GCE Ocean Technology.
“We have neither the capital nor the time to begin developing renewable industries from scratch. That’s why we need to use expertise from oil and gas to kickstart green industry,” says Owe Hagesæther, CEO of GCE Ocean Technology.
The cluster is an example of just how fast the transition from fossil to green can go. In the course of the past three years, the majority of member companies have become involved in renewable activities, in addition to oil and gas.
“In 2014, we were 120 companies working solely with the petroleum industry. Today, more than half of our companies are involved in either aquaculture or offshore renewable energy as well,” he says.
“Certain companies now have higher turnover from renewables than oil and gas.”
GCE Ocean Technology can point to many crossover innovations where petroleum expertise and technology are being used in sustainable industries.
In addition to technology transfer from one type of offshore activity to another, many companies in GCE Ocean Technology are using their experience from oil and gas to promote sustainable growth in aquaculture.
“For instance, sensors and cameras developed for oil and gas recovery can be used to monitor sea lice and water quality in fish farms. Companies like Aanderaa and Imenco are doing precisely this and have become very active in the aquaculture industry.”
“The common denominator for all of our companies is that both their expertise and their basic technology have been developed for oil and gas,” he says.
GCE Ocean Technology is actively assisting its members to make the move to new, blue markets.
“We help companies with market adaptation through projects, programmes and seminars. We also introduce them to key individuals and key companies in the new markets,” explains Hagesæther.
The transition from the petroleum industry to renewable industries has not been easy, particular in a time of downsizing and cost cutting. All companies in the oil and gas industry are vulnerable to price fluctuations.
“Oil and gas is a cyclical industry, which poses a particular challenge for small companies that rely on a relatively stable cash stream. Establishing themselves in renewable industries can make these companies more resilient. Not all of them are earning as much as when oil prices were at their highest, but at least they have more strings to their bow,” he says.
Owe Hagesæther and GCE Ocean Technology are proud of their contribution to sustainable growth.
“It is important for us to help to create a market where companies can thrive in the wake of the green transition. This is a key step in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”