The National Subsea Research Institute (NSRI) was created in January 2009 as collaboration between Subsea UK, the trade association for the subsea business in the UK, and Newcastle University, the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University and the University of Dundee. A not-for-profit company, its purpose is to develop a nationally co-ordinated strategic programme for next generation subsea and underwater technology.
Since its creation, NSRI has recruited 22 major company members from across the oil and gas supply chain. Together both partners and members have been working to review the major technical challenges facing the future of the subsea industry - a globally competitive sector of great importance to the UK economy, with an important cluster of subsea-focussed businesses located in the North East of England.
According to Subsea UK, the global market share for UK subsea companies is around 20%. But with a trend in the subsea oil and gas industry towards seabed developments, the global opportunities over the next few years are forecast to increase to around £41 billion.
In order to embrace this and position the UK as the global leader in subsea innovation, strategic investment in technology R&D is vital. Based on the strong engineering base, a history of innovation for the North Sea, and a track record of excellence in project management and skills development, the UK is well placed to seize this opportunity.
Subsea technology development tends to be dominated by the requirements of the offshore oil and gas industry, technologies are equally transferrable to other offshore areas, especially the growing marine renewables sector and the ocean science fraternity, in which the UK excels. These are global markets, and new innovative ideas, services and products clearly provide opportunities for local businesses working in the sector.
Through NSRI, the partner universities are leading with new fundamental scientific and engineering research to address the principal challenges facing the industry. Especially:
• Step change improvement in reliability and integrity performance and management;
• Stronger and lighter materials for subsea applications;
• Autonomous and self-configuring subsea control systems;
• Locally generated subsea power.
Academics across a range of disciplines at Newcastle University, are looking towards new research ideas in sensor development and sensor networks; composite materials, subsea energy harvesting and applications of mathematical and computational modelling to produce ground breaking solutions that will deliver a step change impact on behalf of the industry. This will allow future subsea projects to lead the way in technological innovation, delivering solutions that will extend the life of existing subsea assets, particularly in the North Sea.