As well as SMEs operating in the underwater engineering industry being “cautiously optimistic” about the next six to 12 months, the findings also highlighted the importance of the sector’s diversification from its core oil and gas market into renewables aquaculture, defence and subsea mining.
Offshore renewables alone now account for almost 25 per cent of all subsea revenues earned by the sector.
The findings came from a snapshot survey by industry body Subsea UK of its smaller member companies to find out how they were dealing with the fall-out from Covid-19.
More than half (56 per cent) of respondents said they were “fairly optimistic” about the next six to 12 months and almost 75 per cent do not anticipate making redundancies in the near future.
However, almost 23 per cent are shedding jobs with only 3.5 per cent actively recruiting. The last business activity review into the sector in 2019 reported that the subsea industry in the UK employed 45,000 people.
The top three priorities highlighted by subsea SMEs are the health and well-being of employees, cash-flow and lack of visibility over project work and their order books.
Respondents also revealed that their target markets remain unchanged as a result of the global pandemic. In terms of geography, Europe remains a key market, followed by Gulf of Mexico, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East.
Subsea UK’S chief executive Neil Gordon, said: “While it’s too early to determine the full extent of the economic impact on the subsea industry, our latest findings are more encouraging than we anticipated.
“Although there have been major redundancy programmes across the tier one companies, the situation among SMEs – who make up the bulk of the subsea supply chain – does not appear quite so gloomy. However, this cautious optimism must be put in context with the overall bleak outlook we are seeing.”
Gordon said the subsea supply chain has a “pivotal role” to play in the energy transition and the green recovery.