SeaAirSpace Conference booth

Autonomy, Energy Transition, and Sustainability Headline Offshore Conferences

The last two years have been difficult for the conference industry. A new decade held such promise for the offshore sector, and international conferences were, once again, poised to offer the ideal platform for new and exciting business development opportunities.

So, in Q1 2020 when global events, one after another, began to speculatively postpone their dates in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was hard to imagine that any hiatus on face-to-face networking would last long. But little did we know.

Fast forward to Q2 2022 and the adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” rings true. In-person events, after the many attempts to convince ourselves that virtual conferences run a close second, are back on the agenda. And for those who have found themselves reconnecting with partners new and old on busy exhibition floors in the first half of 2022, the distinction between “attending” a conference and “experiencing” one is all too clear.

For a systems integrator like OSI, which works across a range of ocean and offshore industries on a broad mix of marine ops and tech-led projects, it has been fascinating to catch up with colleagues to understand firsthand how they were able to navigate the pandemic and, ultimately, benefit from each other’s experience.

As OSI team members took to the road in Q2 2022 we were quickly reminded of two things: One, the offshore community has been extremely busy and, two, there are several dominant—and interdependent—themes set to define our sector’s focus over the next few years: Autonomy; Energy Transition; and Sustainability.

Here is our take on three of the more high-profile conferences that took place in April and May and the key takeaways from each.

SeaAirSpace 2022, Washington DC: Focus on Autonomy

The SeaAirSpace 2022, the Navy League’s Global Maritime Exposition, returned in force to the Gaylord Convention Center in Maryland, April 4 – 6. Over 15,000 in-person attendees were present for 3-days of frank discussion on policy impacting the US Defense mission and how the defense industry is stepping up to align with government policy decisions and supporting the needs of the armed forces. The event was particularly timely, given the developing situation in Ukraine and the need for all defense-related stakeholders to maintain a global view on security requirements.

This year’s meeting offered visitors and exhibitors a long-awaited opportunity to network face-to-face in the provided meeting rooms, the bustling exhibition hall, and at several lunches and receptions.v

The OSI team, along with our sister companies, Okeanus Science & Technology and SeaRobotics who both exhibited at the event, was delighted to catch up with some long-established partners as well as make several new interesting connections. What is abundantly clear from SeaAirSpace 2022, as amply demonstrated by the various technical solutions on show, is that the integration of autonomous systems—whether above, on, or below the waterline—is about to unlock a new era of range, capacity, and efficiency for the naval forces.

The conference delivered a comprehensive overview of strategic defense requirements and included engaging panel discussions about the variation in regional needs, key projects, and broader strategic demands. Details aside, the overwhelming consensus at SeaAirSpace 2022, as voiced most eloquently by Secretary of the Navy Carlos del Toro, was that to meet global challenges, the navy budget should be driven by strategy, not the other way round.

OSI would like to thank the Navy League for an excellent conference, and we look forward to attending SeaAirSpace 2023 next year.

OTC 2022, Houston, Texas: Focus on Energy Transition

Houston was awash with offshore energy professionals from 2 – 5 May to discuss the “Energy Evolution” at this year’s Offshore Technology Conference (OTC). A welcome return to an in-person format, the NRG Park played host to over 24,000 attendees, 7,000 of whom traveled to Houston from outside the US, according to show organizers.

The exhibition area, a sellout 250,000 square feet floorplan of 1,064 exhibiting companies from 39 countries, showcased all the latest technological products and services available to offshore developers, with energy security and low-carbon measures towards long-term climate goals through top of mind.

OSI was encouraged to see the industry focus on robotics and autonomous systems and capabilities, and on enhanced offshore operations and subsea IMR management. The conference delivered a comprehensive overview of the strategic requirements of the offshore energy sector as it strives to meet global energy needs with ever more sustainable solutions.

The need for sector collaboration and partnership with renewable energy companies was also identified as critical. This sense of alliance was also prevalent at this year’s International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum (IPF), hosted by the Business Network for Offshore Wind from 25 – 28 April in Atlantic City, NJ, which OSI also attended as an exhibitor. (Read our blog “The Commercial Turbines of the US Offshore Wind Industry are Spinning” about the IPF event and the outlook for the US Offshore Wind industry.)

OSI would like to thank OTC organizers for another excellent show, and we look forward to attending OTC 2023 next year.

But OTC is more than a conference; it is a week of associated events and celebrations. Including our very own. Following cancellations in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, team members from the Continental Shelf Associates (CSA) family of companies—representing CSA Ocean Sciences, CSA Ciências Oceânicas, Okeanus Science and Technology, Bluefield Geoservices, TSC Strategic, Ocean Specialists, SeaRobotics, and Advanced Ocean Systems—were very happy to, once again, host a reception at the ZaZa Hotel in Houston’s Museum District for an evening of informal networking with canapes and a hearty selection of fine wines and cocktails.

Our event was very well attended, with a headcount approaching 100. It was great to see so many old friends, customers, and new contacts—in person! The general feeling among guests was that there is much to be positive about over the next 12 months as the industry steers towards an increasingly carbon neutral future.

ITW 2022, Washington DC: Focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)

International Telecoms Week (ITW) is the gold standard when it comes to uniting thought leaders and the most senior executives from the telecoms and ICT Infrastructure ecosystem. As such, it gave the OSI team, represented by Tony Mosley (Director of Business Development) and Steve Lentz (Director of Network System Science and Engineering), a timely opportunity to catch up with clients of our cable network development services.

ITW 2022, from May 9 – 12, was the 15th edition of an event that seems to grow from strength to strength, year on year. This year’s attendance was 5,600, representative of 1,800 companies from over 130 countries. For all the latest cyber security developments to the newest innovations in submarine cables, or even the likely impact of quantum computing on system management, ITW 2022 at the National Harbor in Washington DC was the place to be.

Over the years, the format has become welcomingly familiar: an impressive exhibition space, a formidable program of presentations and keynote speakers, and dedicated meeting spaces for more intimate contract discussions.

While most of the announcements during the week centered around new partnerships and infrastructure milestones, environmental sustainability was an important thread throughout the week. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies are now a primary concern for operators. The challenges associated with meeting the insatiable demand for bandwidth and capacity in a carbon neutral future will lean heavily on ESG policies, so an open dialogue was encouraged. So much so, in fact, that ITW kicked off with “ESG Day.”

The subsea panel discussions were also of merit and provided some topics for ongoing discussion, such as the identification of new Global Hubs and their respective contributions to the broader network. Also, the move to bring cable landing stations and datacenters into the same facility was a hot topic, provoking the further question: How secure is your cable landing station from potential sea level rise?

ITW 2023 is planned for May 14-17, 2023, in National Harbor, MD, and OSI looks forward to being in attendance once again.