Our diversification story

It’s fair to say that for many industries, 2020 has brought some unexpected surprises and challenges. But for those working predominantly in the oil and gas sector, the global economic downturn we are experiencing as a result of Covid-19 has had some potentially long-term effects for the industry and the need to consider diversification has never been more apparent.

We’ve already seen some of big players in the industry like Shell and most recently, BP, invest in renewable energy and not only will it be good for the environment, as a company who began our diversification a number of years ago, it’s also good for business.

Making the transition

When Cathie was first formed back in 2008, the majority of our turnover came from the oil and gas market and it wasn’t until a few years later, at a time when we were beginning to consider the sustainability of our business, that we witnessed Round 3 tendering of offshore wind developments in the UK. Due to the huge scale of the exercise, it started to change the strategic thinking of many supply chain companies, including ours.

With Europe leading the way in renewable energy thanks to its sympathetic policy framework, development-friendly marine areas and good wind resources, it was a natural place for the sector to grow. And, due to the locations of our offices, we were exposed to opportunities from the beginning, meaning offshore renewable energy projects started to become part of the natural flow of work coming into Cathie.

The benefits of oil and gas expertise

We found that renewables developers were keen to bring oil and gas knowledge and experience on board as lot of the principles and practices of subsea geotechnics and geophysics are broadly applicable across both sectors, such as foundations and cabling. Combine that with the fact that a number of the new renewable energy developments are located in historically oil & gas regions, such as Brazil, Vietnam and Australia, meant that we were well placed to put our long-standing knowledge and experience to work on behalf of renewables-focused clients.

One combined proposition

Our interest in the oil and gas sector continues and we’re now at the stage where it’s something of a two-way street in terms of knowledge transfer. We’ve been able to transition away from having separate oil and gas and offshore wind services and develop an overarching offshore proposition that operates fluidly across both arenas.

This approach mirrors a strategic trend that’s also evident amongst major energy operators, who are extending their activities and rebalancing their portfolios into the realm of renewables.

Increasing diversity

Recognition as a renewables player can also bring other benefits including a more diverse workforce thanks to a growing interest in the sector from young people and women. As an engineering consultancy, our organisation has increased the number of female employees in recent years. Women now represent 30% of our business and we anticipate that figure will continue to rise.

The future is renewable

Despite difficulties including challenging contracting and commercial conditions, the need for a local market presence and an unrelenting focus on costs, the offshore global wind market offers oil and gas companies big opportunities. For those looking to enter, an oil and gas background can be particularly beneficial in areas including floating offshore wind. And for those who succeed in creating long-term relationships and becoming established in the supply chain, the rewards are worth the effort.

With offshore wind now making up over 75% of our turnover, and with a track record of project delivery in marine energy, we’re proud to be supporting the energy transition, to be becoming more sustainable – and to be promoting diversity as we do so.