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The Importance of Local Content and Community Engagement in Offshore Projects

Offshore projects and assets are extremely high-value but because they are often developed and deployed in or near areas that are somewhat remote, even ‘forgotten’, real and meaningful local engagement, investment and commitment is even more challenging but no less important.

The importance of offshore projects delivering jobs, further investment and development and sustainable growth to an area cannot be overestimated. Engagement with local communities and maximised local content in contracts, from local jobs to local equipment and services, clearly bring benefits to communities, but going local where possible also brings dividends for operators and contractors.

Using local services.

In addition to the supply of hardware such as turbine and tower parts for wind projects and jackets, decks, pipelines and umbilicals for hydrocarbon developments, offshore projects also require marine services such as supply and support vessels. Accommodation for workers needs catering, cleaning and laundry services and there will be plumbing and electrical and other maintenance needs. Onshore, services such as forklift provision, waste-handling and security are required at onshore bases. At the same time, the burgeoning decommissioning market in the UK offers extensive opportunities for contractors and suppliers in a variety of sectors, not least plug and abandonment and topside recycling.

Clear project benefits.

What’s in it for a project? Most communities have to be gently convinced of the economic and social benefit of having large operators and contractors operating offshore, if they are to accept a project and support it as a positive addition to the area and country. For the operators and contractors, community engagement, whether through sponsorships, engagement with key stakeholders, business partnerships and relationships nurtured with local community groups, can really “make” a project.

Sustainable development.

There is a strong moral duty there too, for operators and contractors, to not simply award contracts automatically to the lowest bidder, or the usual go-to company. All companies – small, medium, large and local, regional and international  ̶  should be looking to commit locally, but tendering processes can sometimes overlook, even exclude, smaller local players in favour of larger, more experienced, and frequently cheaper, international multi-service contractors. If companies are really committed to investing sustainably in their projects’ communities, they will give serious consideration to the local options. These may be slightly more expensive and slightly less experienced offshore than others, but supporting local companies to learn and develop will help ensure it can become just as efficient and just as competitive as the familiar names in that area.

Growing capabilities.

This also facilitates training of local people and provision of skilled jobs at a sustainable cost base. UK, Dutch and French markets are particularly ripe for intensified development in this way, Germany less so, while in the Middle East, the UAE and Saudi Arabia in particular are driving local content and sustainable development, as are Brunei, China and Singapore in the Middle East.

Helping an experienced company to develop, and therefore helping an immature market to grow, may require careful thought and definition put into the procurement process, so that the bidding mechanism does not exclude local firms in any way and they are able to truly engage and bid on as level a playing field and at as many parts of the supply chain as possible. Giving proper feedback to unsuccessful bidders can also only help to mature the chain, to the benefit of the offshore sector as a whole.

Involvement in local communities.

Sponsoring existing community events, or initiating them, is a great way to engage and encourage connection of a project and company name with positive things, cultivating goodwill and a real feeling of commitment to the area. With some events, the reach can be a significant chunk of the local population, and help ensure growth in positive stories so that local communities come to accept offshore projects, and its contractors, as an integral part of it.

Mutual benefits.

Communities need development, but offshore operators and contractors need the communities. Local content commitments and goodwill in both directions can prove priceless to a sustainable offshore sector.

Attollo Offshore places local content commitments and key performance indicators at the core of its project execution and subscribes to the UN sustainable development goals. Through its Foundation, Attollo Offshore assists in the development of maritime education, STEM, sport, art and culture for the benefit of young people.

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