Global Underwater Hub Business Survey 2023

Global Underwater Hub Business Survey 2023
Steve Fernie, Global Underwater Hub’s Strategic Program Manager. (Image credit: Global Underwater Hub)

Global Underwater Hub’s (GUH) 2023 Business Survey has emphasised the strength of the UK supply chain across the underwater sectors but warns that a continuing lack of project surety is impeding necessary investment.

The survey, published on Wednesday, October 25, found that the supply chain believes it has the necessary capabilities to actively diversify into new market sectors, supporting the energy transition. However, a lack of clarity around future project timelines is affecting confidence, impeding investment and hampering efforts to tackle bottlenecks in the supply chain and increase capacity. 

Compiled by GUH’s market intelligence team, the report gathered the views of GUH member companies and the wider supply chain and acts as a bellwether for the underwater industry.  It details the capacity, capability and confidence of companies working across the underwater sectors to meet the demand of planned multi-billion-pound investments.

The new publication highlights the key industry sectors and geographic markets being prioritised by companies and how transferable they deem their products and services. Respondents noted concerns and challenges around market diversification, skills and investment, which could impede the development of global offshore energy, subsea cabling or aquaculture projects.

Findings from the study will inform, influence and assist decision making across the broad spectrum of stakeholders involved in the underwater sectors, including government, investors, technology developers and the supply chain itself.

Steve Fernie, Strategic Program Manager at GUH and who led the survey, said: “The 2023 Business Survey set out to ask three key questions around the underwater industry supply chain’s capacity, capability and confidence in delivering upcoming projects. We have gone behind the numbers to investigate the supply chain’s viewpoint on demand, its ability to meet that demand and where it sees challenges in doing so.

“The results give a pragmatic perspective of how the underwater industry supply chain views the upcoming investments in offshore energy, subsea cables, aquaculture and subsea minerals. There is confidence across the underwater sectors, yet it is very aware of the challenges it faces which would impact the speed of project development and delivery.

“As the global drive to net-zero continues, there are huge opportunities for the UK’s world-class underwater supply chain, which for decades has been in demand overseas. Creating project surety is critical for the underwater supply chain to support the timely development of multiple projects and deliver 2050 net-zero ambitions.” 

GUH Business Report 2023 – quick facts

  • The UK is home to a world-class supply chain which is a huge benefit for domestic projects. However, the supply chain considers UK opportunities amongst a global portfolio, 93% of companies are also actively exploring international markets whilst retaining a focus on the UK.
  • Market opportunities across the globe are expected to increase in the short and medium term, with stronger growth expected to come from international markets compared to UK opportunities. Oil and gas and offshore wind significantly represent the largest markets.
  • More than 80% of companies who took part in the survey are already active or considering diversification across the underwater market sectors.
  • The supply chain is confident that it currently has the required capability to be active across its core and diversified markets. Nearly two-thirds (64%) are confident in their current capabilities, while looking ahead 83% are confident in their future levels.
  • Capacity is hampered by parallel demand from concurrent investment in the underwater sectors and an undersupply of a skilled workforce. Only 55% believe they have the required current capacity, although there is greater positivity when looking at the longer term.
  • The supply chain is confident that required capacity to deliver planned projects can be achieved but the majority expects ‘significant’ investment and headcount increases will be required over the longer term.
  • Confidence in the underwater market exists on a global basis with greater opportunities seen overseas. Project visibility is the largest barrier, with the vast majority fearing that most projects will not keep to proposed timelines which greatly impacts supply chain planning.

The full report is available to view and download from the Global Underwater Hub website.


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