Ørsted’s Benj Sykes becomes President of the SUT

Image: Outgoing SUT President Moya Crawford presents Benj Sykes with his Fellows Certificate

Last week’s AGM of the Society for Underwater Technology marked the official handover to newly elected officers in three senior posts – President, Hon Secretary and Hon Treasurer; the announcement of a new Fellow of the Learned Society; and of winners of four Awards. These being The President’s Award, the Gwyn Griffiths Award for Underwater Robotics, the Lennard-Senior Award; and the Captain Don Walsh Award for Ocean Exploration. Once all the formalities were concluded SUT members were treated to a look at decarbonising the energy system by Abigail Davies PhD with particular reference to decommissioning.

Benj Sykes, Vice President, Head of Environment, Consenting and External Affairs at Ørsted has been elected SUT’s President, Nick Swift becomes Hon Secretary, and Mick Cook returns as Hon Treasurer. Sue John continues in her role as SUT’s Chair.

As SUT’s Chief Executive, Cheryl Burgess explained: “Benj Sykes will bring valuable insights and connections to the Society. He has worked extensively in both the offshore oil and gas and the offshore renewables sector. Through his current role at Ørsted, and previously at the Carbon Trust, and his non-executive roles in the Offshore Renewables Catapult and previously the Offshore Wind Industry Council and RenewableUK. He is a current member of the Board of the Global Underwater Hub.

“His experience and connections are well suited to helping the Society navigate the energy transition; helping to guide the offshore oil and gas sector through the energy transition, while building a stronger position in offshore renewable energy and the wider components of a sustainable ocean economy.”

Benj Sykes, now a Fellow of the SUT, said: “Renewable energy will be at the heart of the world’s future energy systems. I’m looking forward to helping champion the SUT on its journey to playing a full role in the energy transition as we move away from fossil fuels and towards a cleaner, greener future.”

The President’s Award

Outgoing SUT President, Moya Crawford, revealed that: “This year’s winner of the SUT President’s Award for outstanding achievement is Mr Ali Hynd, Vice Principal of Mintlaw Academy in Buchan, NE Scotland and the pupils he inspires in Mintlaw ROV, a very professional school club run under his technology remit.

“It has been awarded in the face of very stiff opposition, as a shining example of what can be achieved in the most formative stages of life when the creative and rewarding relationship between mentor and young minds is operating at its best.  Directed by a strong sense of purpose and supported by the community, including industry, the focus of overcoming the challenges of delivering function in the underwater realm has developed personal skills and generated opportunity as well as being an applied learning experience.

“Together, they are a shining example to us all one which justly deserves the honour of the President’s Award, to acknowledge their effort and commitment.  This will be handed over at Subsea Expo in Aberdeen in February 2024 and we look forward to covering their joint achievements in full, then.”

Awards made July 2022- June 2023

The 2022 President’s Award was made to Mensun Bound in recognition of his career achievements to, and contributions in, the field of marine archaeology and the Falkland Maritime Heritage Trust in recognition of their dedication to preserving the rich and varied seafaring history of the Falklands and those who have been associated with them.

The 2023 Gwyn Griffiths Award for Underwater Robotics was presented to Rustom Jehangir of Blue Robotics at Ocean Business 2023.

Norma Hogan of Highlands and Islands Enterprise was the recipient of the 2023 Lennard-Senior Memorial Prize. The prize is awarded in recognition of outstanding individual achievement in the field of Marine Renewable Energy. Norma has supported the wave and tidal sector for 15 years, working behind the scenes to support a sector that will be transformational for the UK.

The 2022 Captain Don Walsh Award for Ocean Exploration, presented jointly with the Marine Technology Society (MTS), was awarded to University of Georgia oceanographer  Dr Samantha Joye.

Decarbonising the energy system with reference to decommissioning

Abigail Davies

Following the formal proceedings Abigail Davies spoke on decarbonising the energy system, which she described as “one of the most pressing issues of our time” and presented her PhD work investigating the greenhouse gas emissions from decommissioning and how the results can be used to inform decarbonisation decision making.

Abigail has over 15 years of experience in the oil and gas industry working in various roles in geosciences for operators and supply companies. Having very recently completed her PhD in the quantification of greenhouse gas emissions from decommissioning Abigail joined the Robert Gordon University in September as a lecturer in sustainability. Her research interests include quantification of GHG emissions from the energy system, including GHG emissions transition pathway mapping, sustainability, circular economy and climate change mitigations.

Further information on the SUT

Full information on the SUT is available at www.sut.org. The Learned Society has both individual, corporate and student members. To join visit www.sut.org/sut-membership/application-for-membership/ or e-mail [email protected].