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KOMtech: How research and innovation is key to tackling the cycles of the maritime industry

Report interviews Aziz Merchant, Executive Director of Keppel Offshore & Marine Technology Centre (KOMtech).

Q: We all know that the global oil and gas industry has seen a downturn. What, in your opinion, will be the most significant changes in the floating production industry as a result of this?

A: “One of the differences in this cycle was the growth of US shale oil and its reduced costs of development, which contributed to the drastic fall in oil prices. It means that the offshore oil and gas industry needs to focus on achieving greater efficiencies in cost control and sustainability to be competitive with shale.”

Q: Keppel group like other companies has undoubtedly suffered from the downturn as well. What strategy is Keppel group following to combat this slump?

A: “Across Keppel Offshore & Marine, we are restructuring to achieve greater efficiencies, increase synergies between business units and share

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resources to develop compelling solutions that are economical, well- designed and well- executed for customers across industries. We continue to execute our projects well and ensure that we maintain our strong reputation for safety, quality and timeliness. We are also exploring opportunities where we can repurpose and maximise our offshore technology to ensure a wider portfolio of product o fferings.”

“In response to the current low oil price, emphasis was placed on repositioning and improving existing core products/services to stay relevant to the changing market conditions and customer preferences, developing new products such as the ‘Rig of Tomorrow’ that would be price- competitive compared to shale oil development, increasing our services through acquisitions such as Keppel LeTourneau, as well as providing solutions along the Gas Value Chain.”

“We have made significant progress in our gas strategy, delivering the world’s first Floating LNG vessel conversion last year and captured new opportunities as demonstrated by new contracts for the construction of two Liquefied Natural Gas fuelled containerships, dredgers and the conversion of a Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel.”

Q: How do you see the current market perspective for deepwater oil and gas, and which regions or countries will present the largest growth opportunities?

A: “There are expected to be some pockets of activity for deepwater exploration in Brazil, Mexico and West Africa but long lead times for deepwater projects means that the effects of this won’t be seen in the short term. At the moment, there is a sweet spot for mid water semis in the North Sea, while deepwater remains generally depressed.”

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