ODE Group – ODE’s Energy for Change

With a background that spans oil, gas, and renewable energy, ODE Group is well-positioned to drive the energy transition.

For nearly fifty years, as part of the DORIS Group, ODE has been working offshore in the UK and international oil and gas sectors and joined the renewables industry through the major UK wind farm, Scroby Sands, in 2003.

In 2018, Offshore Design Engineering Ltd underwent a restructure to account for its new sister company, ODE Asset Management. ODE Group (ODE)was established and today the Group operates across three main sectors. The first is offshore renewables, including offshore wind, which operates primarily in the UK but has offices in Taiwan, Korea, Japan and the US. ODE’s second domain is the oil, gas and energy transition sector, focused on engineering, project management, and brownfield modifications. This sector of the business takes assets and modifies them for life extension or other improvements and primarily operates out of ODE’s office in Great Yarmouth with support from the headquarters in Wimbledon.

The third sector of ODE is asset management, duty holder operations and maintenance for offshore platforms. This part of the business also operates out of Great Yarmouth, as well as Aberdeen, managing logistics, supply chain, helicopters and offshore crews on behalf of its clients.

“We’re fit for purpose and cost-focused but we also have the ability to scale to larger projects if required,” says Andrew Baker, Managing Director of ODE. “We’ve been in Great Yarmouth for a long period of time, so we have good connections and good resources in the area, as well as the resources of the wider Doris Group. ODE has around 400 staff across engineering, project management, and wider services. With another 800 people from the DORIS Group distributed internationally, we can work around the globe.

Ready for Transition

ODE was one of the first companies of its kind in the offshore renewables market, and has now heightened its focus on the energy transition. However, with the experience ODE has behind it, this is not exactly uncharted territory.

“You could argue that we have been supporting the energy transition since we entered into renewables, but we see demand growing exponentially,” Baker tells us. “We are taking our process engineering and safety engineering and offshore experience to this new wave of renewables, including hydrogen and ammonia production. We have experience in both camps and we’re using that experience and exporting it all around the world.”

Talking with Baker, it is clear he appreciates the challenge that the energy industry poses to his sector, but he is equally confident in ODE’s ability to rise to it.

“We are seeing a big change; the energy transition is real, it is happening, and it is moving now,” he insists. “We need to see where it is happening and be prepared for it. There are many competing avenues to concentrate on, all coming at different points in the business cycle. We need to make sure we’re dynamic, flexible and can sustain our business to serve those different aspects of the transition as they come through.”

It is an approach centred in ODE’s culture.

“We sell services – rather than products – so our people are at the core of what we do. We make sure we have the right culture to deal with the challenges and changes and have the right kind of can-do attitude,” points out Baker.

That kind of dynamism and flexibility can be seen in ODE’s development of the AWC technology, a project that has seen the Group shift from a service model to an innovation one.

“Our model is selling person-hours, project management and design, but in the last five years we’ve been developing designs for foundation structures for offshore wind turbines,” Baker explains. “It’s an approach that allowed us to go in a different direction in terms of supporting the green revolution. We’re now designing and bringing to market an innovative foundation solution, the Articulated Wind Column (AWC). We just received funding for that, getting it to technology readiness level seven by next year.”

A Transition, Not A Switch

It’s a project that suggests a new direction for the company, but also shows the role the oil and gas industry might play in the energy transition.

“It’s a very new thing for us, we’ve been purely a service company and we are now looking at being an innovative company as well,” Baker says. “The really interesting thing is that there are 161 floating turbine concepts out there at the last count. It’s the next evolution of offshore wind. But the AWC is taking a concept used in oil and gas offloading columns and bringing it into the renewables market with a new purpose- showing oil and gas engineering is not being forgotten about.”

This attitude is extended to ODE’s recruitment processes, where the company is showing how skills in the oil and gas sector can be repurposed.

“We’re acting as a bridge for people who exclusively worked in oil and gas, have many transferable skills and want to be part of the energy transition, because we’re not purely renewable or purely oil and gas we can bring those people in,” Baker tells us.

Indeed, this sense of embracing the new without throwing out the best of the old is a key part of ODE’s philosophy.

“We need people who are engaged with the energy transition philosophy. Gas is very clearly part of the transition- it’s a transition, not a switch,” Baker argues. “If we just pivoted to renewables, I don’t think that would assist with the transition itself.”

Looking forward, ODE intends to continue this approach.

“We will continue to work in the hydrocarbon space, but as decarbonised a way as we can, focusing on greenhouse gas reduction, power to platform, reducing power production from hydrocarbons and tying them into offshore renewables,” says Baker. “We think hydrogen will be big, ammonia is growing, we can see markets emerging, faster than the offshore wind farming market has.”

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