Annual Report 2019-2020

Chair: Martin Harley

Like all branches, we reached the end of the financial year in the most difficult of times. A year ago there were clear indications the industry was climbing out of the oil price downturn that had started as long ago as October 2014 but then the imposition of COVID-19 restrictions prevented the public assemblies on which much of our mission depends.

My predecessor as Aberdeen branch chair, Daniele Petrone, relinquished the chair in December 2019 having steered the Aberdeen section through one of its more difficult times and I owe him thanks.

My gratitude also extends to Jacqui Adams the SUT Events Manager who has coordinated SUT events not only in Aberdeen but across the UK very effectively, the Aberdeen committee would be lost without her.

I would need to take this opportunity to say a huge “Thank You” to our Aberdeen SUT Branch Sponsors, KD Marine, OneSubsea and BHGE. Our branch sponsors make possible a great many of the activities we support and without them our range of events would be greatly reduced.

2019-2020 Branch Activities

If the oil and gas activity remained fragile in 2019, it was in an even more parlous state after March 2020 as lockdown restrictions meant the cancellation and postponement of almost all our activities. Those events we were able to mount were:

  • Two Subsea Awareness Courses; November 2019 and March 2020, demonstrating that companies still see value in training their people. The feedback received from the delegates was excellent and we had intended to run two more courses in 2020 before lockdown intervened.
  • The Schools Christmas Lecture at the end of November 2019 saw over 800 pupils attend lectures on marine life, the underwater environment, diver and diverless technology. Now in its 10th year the lectures have proven one of our most popular events and is one of the larger demonstrations of the society’s charitable obligations.
  • Our AGM black-tie dinner in December 2019 at the Marcliffe Hotel suffered low numbers; an indication of the still low levels of confidence in the offshore sector.
  • The Business Breakfast and Networking morning also at the Marcliffe in January 2020 saw three excellent presentations on the market situation, forecasts of energy demand and subsea opportunities in the wider blue economy.
  • In October 2019, in conjunction with The Hydrographic Society of Scotland and the International Marine Contractors Association, we delivered ‘The Subsea Digital Toolbox’ one-day seminar, covering robotics, communications, integrity management and tried to discern future trends. For the first time we live-streamed the proceedings and though virtual attendees were low in number, we intend to build on the experience.
  • We managed to deliver only five evening meetings on Gadgets & Widgets, Salvage and UXO, Energy Harvesting, Seabed Site Investigation and technologies for the Low Carbon Future, before the lockdown intervened putting an end to the rest of the season’s events and courses.

Aberdeen Committee

For the first time in several years we held elections for places on the Aberdeen Committee. We have voting and non-voting (co-opted) seats and we submitted a third of our voting seats to vote by the membership. I would like to welcome new committee members Graham Whitehead and David Warren to the committee who joined as a result. We will continue elections each year, thus having a mechanism for gradual turnover of the committee personnel. We also welcomed Co-Opted members Katherine Ferguson of Rever and Jamie Wilson of Oceaneering and finally I would also like to express my personal thanks to Patrick Duggan of Apache who has stepped up to the role of Vice Chair.

Not only are a huge thanks due to the individuals that make up our committee but also their parent companies for allowing their participation. It’s not lost on us that the burden of SUT business is a few hours a month away from their day-jobs; it’s time that we fully appreciate, and we could not do our business without that assistance.


In addition to our regular committee, we also have an SUT+ committee in Aberdeen, consisting of new industry entrants, whether junior or going through a mid-career transition. The enthusiasm coming from the SUT+ has never been less than impressive and they frequently augment the regular committee events as well as running their own which have include site visits, technical seminars and social events.

Training Courses

The Subsea Awareness Course is probably the longest continuously running training course related to underwater operations in the industry. It’s something we are proud of here in Aberdeen. Our presenters, busy oil and gas individuals who give their time freely, deserve a special mention for maintaining the high profile and reputation this course enjoys.

As mentioned earlier we saw increasing uptake in the course this past year, before COVID-19restrictions. As soon as possible we intend to return to our educational objectives, which will include re-activating one or two of our short 1- and 2-day courses.

Given that as I write this, there is no end in sight to the government-imposed restrictions on travel and distancing, it is impossible for us to predict when some kind of normality will return. What I can say, however, is that we will be ready to resume where we left off as one of the most energetic branches of the SUT. We have the educational, networking and charitable events and two committees full of ideas and energy.