2.5Value Driver: Technology

Market Focused Technology

SBM Offshore maintains its technology focus thanks to the Company’s Technology Team engaging externally with its clients and internally with its product line divisions, to identify, understand and analyze the key technical and business trends in the offshore industry. Armed with this market-based information, it strives to predict future technology gaps and to find innovative and cost-effective solutions to meet these challenges. See section 3.2 on how SBM Offshore is actively working towards this goal and is well positioned for tomorrow’s projects by developing safe, reliable and cost-effective solutions to meet the evolving needs of its clients.

The Company’s success is driven by its reputation in the industry for being at the forefront of technology, providing market-driven, pioneering solutions for almost 60 years. With many past examples to illustrate this, the latest – FPSO Turritella – is proof of Shell’s confidence in SBM Offshore’s technological expertise to help explore new frontiers, just as in 1958 when Shell and SBM Offshore first began collaborating on fabricating the industry’s first single buoy mooring.

Cost Reduction

Whereas there is an urgent need to reduce capital costs to ensure that offshore projects are economical in today’s financial climate, unfortunately in recent years many of the industry trends have worked in the opposite direction and capital costs have increased significantly. The challenge for SBM Offshore’s Technology Development Team is to continue to increase functionality at an affordable cost, at a pace to match the market needs.

Two examples of how the Company deals with this challenge:

  • The ARCA chain connector technology (see section 3.2.3): providing the additional functionality of allowing diver-less connection and disconnection of deepwater mooring lines and at the same time, in many cases, enabling the reduction of the turret mooring system size, thereby reducing capital costs.
  • Lazy Wave Steel Risers (LWSR) (see section 3.2 Technology): invited to work on a project for the Deepstar Joint Industry Program (JIP), SBM Offshore aims to allow the wider use of LWSRs for floating production facilities, while simultaneously offering a lower cost solution than competing riser concepts.

Technology Readiness

New technology can become a source of risk, if not correctly managed. SBM Offshore matures its new technology through a structured stage-gate system to ensure that new technology is fully mature before being offered for sale or introduced into its projects. This Technology Readiness Level (TRL) process includes full scale prototype testing of new proprietary components and full FEED level definition of new systems. This TRL process was introduced in 2012 and is now well established in the Company’s development program.


Technology is measured on the quantity and quality of new designs and proprietary components delivered. For example TRL4 represents the fully qualified, project-ready stage, whereby the Company sets a target on the number of new systems and components to be delivered during the year. The quality is measured by the percentage of turnover enabled by new technology.