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NL CEO suggests Ottawa go back to the 80s for the future of East Coast oil and gas

Moya Cahill knows the ups and downs in the oil and gas industry.

She’s lived them.

In the heyday of the Panuke and Sable gas projects, her engineering company had an office in Halifax, as well as offices in St. John’s.

Through the 1990s her company provided engineering services during the building of the Hibernia, Terra Nova, and Sable oilfields infrastructure.

Oil and gas made up 70 percent of her company’s revenue in those heady development days.

Fluctuations in the oil and gas industry, however, led Cahill to rethink the business.

“Because the projects on the East Coast are not back-to-back it’s really difficult to run an engineering company or any company that supports the oil and gas sector,” she told SaltWire Network.

The steady flow of work just wasn’t there.

While remaining committed to the oil and gas sector, Cahill began seeking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

Today, about 70 percent of Pangeo’s revenues come from providing engineering and technical solutions to companies around the globe that are building renewable energy infrastructure, such as wind turbines.

To build a platform to support any underwater or surface structure — whether it be an oil drilling deck or a tower for a wind turbine — you need to build support pillars. They have to sit on a solid foundation.

The only way to know if you have a solid foundation is to know what material lies beneath the seafloor.

That’s where Cahill’s company comes in.

Their software provides imagery of the subsea bed.

“PanGeo Subsea has developed proprietary technology that can collect acoustic data from the subsea bed, providing clients with imagery to show geo-hazards,” Cahill said.

“Those geo-hazards can be anything from boulders to hard layers of the seabed. In the case of Europe, where those offshore wind farms are located between the U.K. and continental Europe, during World War II over 50 million bombs were dropped and we’re actually imaging those unexploded mines.”

PanGeo Subsea also works with companies installing underwater cables and pipelines.

“We’ll actually do a pre-route survey to help them decide where they should trench for the cable or pipeline.”

Over the past two years, PanGeo grew from 12 employees to 75, with offices in Dartmouth, N.S., Boston, Aberdeen, and Doha.

Although her company has switched its main focus to serving clients in the renewable energy field, Cahill says about 30 percent of its revenues still come from oil and gas clients.

And the current crisis in the oil and gas sector has hurt the company’s operations.

Pangeo Subsea may have to pull back on some planned research and development projects intended to help expand the company and its technology service offerings.

Still, Cahill says, her company wouldn’t be where it is today without its initial successes in the offshore oil and gas industry.

She notes when she started in the industry over 30 years ago, the Canadian government offered grants through the petroleum investment program (PIP).

Cahill said that in the 14 years before Pierre Trudeau’s government announced the national energy program in November 1980, companies drilled 142 wells off Atlantic Canada. But in only three years under the NEP, contracts were let for 58.

While the recent announcement by the federal government to fast-track the environmental approval process for exploration was a help, she said it’s just one part of the solution.

“I think we need to bring back the PIP grants. That was what truly stimulated the industry in the 1980s and as soon as they pulled those grants, that’s when everything slowed down on the exploration side of things,” she said.

Cashill added the East Coast of Canada has the infrastructure and the workforce to support the oil and gas industry, and right now they just need more exploration work and at a steady pace.

“For Newfoundland and for Maritime companies, we need more (oil and gas development) and we need more, faster.

Cahill said the offshore oil and gas industry helped her company get to where it is today, and it could help other Atlantic Canadian companies do the same.

“The offshore industry supported us while we enhanced existing and developed new technology and provided opportunities for our technology to evolve into multiple sectors and enter into international markets,” she said.

“I truly believe that Newfoundland and Labrador’s economic future largely depends on the success of the offshore oil and gas industry. Representing approximately 30 percent of our provincial GDP, we need the federal government to provide incentives now so the industry can remain globally competitive and thousands of industry people that have been laid off can return to work.”

About Pangeo Subsea

PanGeo Subsea Inc. is a privately-owned company established in 2006, with corporate headquarters in St. John’s, NL, and offices in Aberdeen, UK, and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, Doha, Qatar, and a sales office in Boston, Massachusetts.

It is a marine geophysical-geotechnical service delivery company specializing in high resolution true 3D volumetric acoustic imaging solutions to mitigate risk in offshore installations.

Two technologies in its portfolio, the Acoustic Corer™ (AC) and the Sub Bottom Imager™ (SBI).

The Acoustic Corer is a tripod-based platform that is placed on the seafloor and collects 20,000 high-resolution data points of the sub-seabed layers and buried objects in a 12-m diameter virtual core that penetrates 30m – 40m into the seabed.

The AC interrogates the sub-seabed similarly to how an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine images your organs.

Real-time imaging is valuable for operators who want to avoid boulders while driving pilings into the seabed for offshore installations. The AC can image the boulders in the sub-seabed and do it within resolutions better than 10 cm allowing the client to micro-site the installation of their piles.

The Sub- Bottom Imager (SBI) is interfaced onto a moving platform, like a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), and flies 3.5m above the seafloor collecting a continuous swath of sub-seabed data measuring 5 m wide with up to 8 m depth of seabed penetration.

The SBI is very helpful in imaging buried offshore pipelines particularly in instances sub-seabed where there may be multiple pipelines or cable crossings that have shifted.

PanGeo’s most recent development is the SeaKite™ which is a remotely operated towed vehicle (ROTV) that has a surplus payload to accommodate other sensors allowing the collection of data in passes at speeds of up to four knots.

Source: The Telegram | This text was excerpted from the media outlet cited on June 16, 2020 and is provided to Noia members for information purposes only. Any opinion expressed therein is neither attributable to nor endorsed by Noia.