The more things change, the more they stay the same – Paul Ellerton

As we move towards Net-Zero we caught up with our Consultancy Director, Paul Ellerton, who has been in the business for 10 years and has seen the changes within the Energy industry.

A bit cliché but in many ways, everything has changed and nothing has changed.

Thinking back over the last year or so and how we have changed as a business is quite enormous but we still undertake the same fundamental engineering solutions we did when I joined 10 years ago. Indeed my second job at Apollo was about flare reduction so the theme of optimisation and emissions reduction has been firmly on our agenda for a lot of time.

In some instances, some of my best clients and friends are suffering as a result of the industry regulations with the viability of assets altering bringing end of life nearer, not later for some, and this is causing pain. On the flip side, and I feel guilty for mentioning a bit of an elephant in the room, is that with the advent of tighter regulations it has brought about a new focus and willingness to spend money in further optimising assets to a level we have not witnessed before in the North Sea.

10 years ago it was about being safe (we still do that!), then with the advent of the oil crash it was about value engineering (we still do that as well!). What has become apparent in the last 12 months particularly is that environment is now front and centre of every piece of engineering we do. For every proposal we send we know what the carbon offset is. For every fabrication we are interested in the end effect it has on the environment. It is everywhere, and rightly so.

Even in other workscopes which were previously compartmentalised are now open environmental doors.

For example, take late life extension. 3 years ago, emissions opportunities were a footnote when looking to extend life, now they are front and centre and every method for evaluating and recommending life extension intrinsically involves emissions reduction challenges.

My personal favourite change in all of this is the re-evaluation of electrification for offshore assets. The idea in the North Sea is not a new one, it’s been around for a long, long time, but now there is an impetus for it and on a raft of public perception it’s refreshing to be involved in something that is seen as very positive from an environmental perspective.

We have looked at electrifying upwards of 10 assets in the North Sea to date and some of these are moving through stage gates as they are viable. Also, the work we are doing on energy storage plays nicely into this and is an important part of the jigsaw we are all providing pieces to.

It’s got to the point where there is a clammer for new technology and good resource that is adding to the melting pot of other political and market influences. Add to this the continued way we and our industry works in this remote/not remote environment and you create a time this is truly unique to our generation.

We will keep riding this wave and do our best to look after the people we work with.

So nothing, and everything!

To see one of our electrification projects click here.