Published on 10 January 2022
Allen Leatt, Chief Executive of the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) takes a whistle stop tour of IMCA’s 2021 activity and looks forward to what’s to come
IMCA membership comprises over 700 companies in 65 countries, our work and voice therefore carries a long way. Safety and efficiency lie at the core of everything we do in our mission to improve performance in the marine contracting industry.
Our COVID-related work included lobbying throughout the year at the IMO to help alleviate the global crew change crisis. And our DDMC and the Diving Medical Advisory Committee continued to provide guidance on processes and procedures for the management of COVID offshore.
Our 2021 strategic review resulted in a 5-point plan highlighting the importance of: the stewardship of our technical library of standards and guidance; expanding our reach into offshore wind and other marine energy sectors; broadening our environmental sustainability scope; collaborating with industry partners; and continuing to promote standardisation.
We maintain a 5-yearly review cycle of our technical library which has great momentum. Occasionally some sections of the library justify a major review, such as our DESIGN suite. These documents run into hundreds of pages and represent a tremendous effort over several years by our diving team and the DDMC.
The offshore wind energy market represents a significant growth opportunity for our industry. We look forward to helping find a sustainable risk model where developers and contractors are aligned with common goals to efficiently accelerate the energy transition.
Our Marine Renewable Energy Committee has addressed offshore construction in the wind industry for the last 10 years. Along with members, our ambition is to internationalise this expertise as the markets and Asia and North America develop. We have collaboration agreements with G+, the global offshore wind health and safety organisation, and seven other wind organisations; and are similarly involved with key stakeholders in the USA.
We are committed to avoiding the duplication of standards in the international wind market. Our safety programme of information notes, industry statistics have continued at pace and our safety flash system reaches over 4,500 people weekly.
Examples of standardisation initiatives abound. For example, last year we developed the industry standard for accredited diving system inspectors – through collaboration with IOGP. This will reduce duplication and unnecessary costs by ensuring a recognised standard of audits across the operator community.
Within our competence and training orbit, our accreditation programme was expanded with the mandatory introduction of our CPD scheme for offshore diving supervisors and was well received by industry with over 1,300 users. Our CPD strategy was extended to DPOs and key DP personnel in collaboration with the Nautical Institute, and our DP Practitioner Accreditation scheme continues to grow.
Our IT strategy continues to develop well in support of our members. A recent example is the integration of our website with a verification portal for checking the validity of certificates issued by IMCA over many years for our various accreditation schemes. A digital certification process has also been launched.
Last year we significantly moved the environmental dial by publishing our Code of Practice for Environmental Sustainability, setting the bar of expectations for our industry in managing key environmental and climate interactions. This is the first of many steps; next comes our online environmental sustainability self-assessment tool for our members to benchmark their strategies and progress in the years ahead.
Our work with regulators has continued apace. At the IMO we have made progress with the Industrial Personnel Code, the autonomous ship initiative, the IMO Diving Code, and the Marine Environment Protection Committee – where we are collecting members’ input on fuel consumption to support our proposals on future KPIs of vessel emission performance.
In Brazil, we have had notable successes. By working with Petrobras over the last two years a scheme for upskilling and qualifying diving supervisors is now in place. The Brazilian Navy recognised this, alongside our important work in DP operations, by awarding us their Friendship Medal.
Today, we have over 60 committees and workgroups engaging with over 600 industry representatives. I thank all involved. With input and support from members we have plenty of new ideas and initiatives to improve performance in our industry.