Abu Dhabi, 26 September 2017.
The IMarEST-Seatrade technical forum took place in Abu Dhabi under the leitmotif – Harnessing Savings in Offshore Operations. Top class panel of speakers shared their views to address some of the key issues facing the industry in today’s fractious times.
The event was held during the biennial Seatrade Offshore Marine & Workboats Middle East 2017 exhibition, the region’s largest offshore marine and workboats industry event. The 127 international attendees including leaders from ports and shipping companies and public bodies in the region were given opportunities to raise their candid queries and challenge the panelists.
The honorary secretary of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST) UAE branch Nikeel Idnani, was the forum moderator who brought his forthright and engaging style to this industry-leading symposium. Nikeel started off the half-day discussions by introducing the esteemed panellists and a preface of the forum theme which set the tone for an engaging dialogue between the audience and panel.
Deliberations during the highly stimulating opening session held under the topic of ‘Optimising operations using existing technology’, focused on Maintenance strategies, OSV designs, optimal use of assets, disruption to safe operations when cold stacking vessels and other ad hoc issues raised by the audience whose opinions had considerable weight.
The stellar line-up of speakers included:
- Ibrahim Fahmy, Marine Advisor, Offshore Projects, ZADCO
- Babak Jabbari, General Manager, Zamil Offshore Services
- Lars Seistrup, Managing Director, Albwardy Damen
- Anthony Weller, Sr VP & Managing Director, International Division, SEACOR Offshore Dubai
- Ahmed Ghowel, Engineer Marine Maintenance, Marine Operations Group, Kuwait Oil Company
While the more pragmatic realities of cost control and cost of capital were cited as being on their radars, big data, automation, fuel efficiency and gas-powered propulsion were referred to by the industry doyens on stage as technological opportunities higher up their respective agendas. This was a welcome sign of forward thinking beyond the immediate concerns of an industry too often crippled by its own cyclicality.
Session two, entitled ‘Future-proofing the offshore industry’, looked at how the maritime landscape is changing tack to adjust to an altering business environment. With fierce competition, only vessels that are commercially viable will be absorbed in the market. Relevant stakeholders need to understand how ship designs must adapt by being fit for purpose and safe. Concurrently, technology is deemed to play a bigger part in shipping. The panel discussed how the maritime industry needs to evolve from being traditionally data-poor to harnessing the power of ‘big data’ enabling better decision-making.
The distinguished panel members consisted of:
- Arnstein Eknes – Segment Director, Special Ships DNV GL
- Fazel A. Fazelbhoy – Chief Executive Officer, Synergy Offshore
- Gunnar Haug – Managing Director, Ulstein Asia Pte Ltd
- Oskar Levander, SVP Concepts & Innovation, Rolls-Royce
- Capt. Sanket Ashok Shukla, Fleet Manager, Miclyn Express Offshore
The speakers, representing their progressive organizations, exhibited guts and real innovative investment which certainly created a buzz in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Discussions revolved around suitable vessel designs catering to the need of the hour i.e. specialized, simple and fit for purpose which are commercially viable. There was debate on the practical implementation of autonomous ship operation, how digitalization can support cost efficiency and another key word – hybridization i.e. combination of technologies to achieve more from a total system than from each system alone. The audience were treated to some detailed, expert analyses on the challenges facing the industry by the high-level panel of speakers. The Q&A session engaged delegates in lively deliberations.While they appreciated the insight, it was evident some of them seemed unconvinced that it was an appropriate time to invest in any major technology outlay during the ongoing downbeat economic climate, perhaps echoing the sentiments of the larger Middle East maritime fraternity.
Vanessa Stephens, Global Events Director and Managing Director Seatrade-UBM, closed the discussions and presented tokens of appreciation to the panelists.