The Demand for Standardization, Part 1
In the first installment of a two-part series, Elaine Maslin takes a look at what all the clamor is about on standardization, what the industry is planning to do about it, and what the results have been to date.
If I got £1 for every time someone said “standardization,” I’d be a rich woman. The word has become part of the offshore industry common parlance in Europe, not least in Norway and particularly within the subsea industry.
It’s easy to think the push for standardization was created in response to the oil price collapse. But it wasn’t. A need for greater standardization—be it around interfaces, components, documentation, tenders—has been discussed at industry events for some time.
Standardization was debated in 2013 at the Underwater Technology Conference (UTC) in Bergen, where questions were asked about what was standardization, what should be standardized, and was industrialization a better goal.
It was also on the agenda at last year’s UTC, then ONS 2014 in Stavanger and again at Subsea Valley in Oslo earlier this year. Visit Norwegian companies and each has its own spin on standardization.
Slowly, some results are starting to be seen. But, those with experience in other sectors that have gone through the same process, such as shipping, warn that for the full impact to be felt, initiatives will need to be adopted across the industry and will take time.
Subsea industry costs offshore Norway have risen to such a level that projects were becoming no longer economic. Costs have been driven by increased specifications, long lead times, duplication and high wages.
Over the years, field-specific-driven challenges have resulted in field-specific specifications, which are layered on top of internal operator specification tool boxes, which, in turn, have been built up based on previous deployments and learnings, Michael Sequiera, principal consultant, deepwater practice lead, OTM Consulting, told the Subsea Valley conference.
Frequently now cited are examples of components, which in any other industry cost a few thousand dollars, cost hundreds of thousands in the subsea sector because of the documentation required, increasing man-hour requirements, costs and lead times.