Predicting big things for the Arctic
Founded in the early 1990s, Oceanic began life as the result of a realization that Newfoundland and Labrador was home to such a capacity of marine research facilities that it was time to share them with the world. So began a global operation leveraging close working arrangements with the St. John’s-based National Research Council and Memorial University’s Marine Institute to offer companies the world over access to leading-edge facilities and support from the province. Today, Oceanic has grown to become a globally recognized commercial research and development company offering services in hydrodynamics and Arctic engineering through extremely accurate physical and numerical modeling simulation of marine structures and vessels.
Over the years, Oceanic has worked on projects as varied as Americas Cup yachts and gravity base structures, in the words of Director of Business Development, Lee Hedd, “Anything that interacts with the marine environment…We are exposed to so many areas of the marine industry that it allows us to pull up ideas, concepts, expertise and tools from sectors in the marine industry to address problems; often using unconventional approaches. We tend to thrive in that environment where you really don’t know what question you want to ask.”
While its scope is global, much of Oceanic’s almost thirty-strong team of experts has been drawn from a rich local talent pool. Nearby Memorial University provides quality undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates in marine engineering, naval architecture and related disciplines, while seniority is provided by staff who have been in the industry and conducting Arctic research since the 1980s.
While the majority of its clients remain international, Oceanic has seen an increase of late in the Canadian contingent, spurred by the development and maturity of the oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It’s a great place to do the research,” says Hedd. “Coming from Newfoundland and Labrador, you understand harsh environments, as a culture and as a people. It’s part of who we are, so it’s such a natural progression for us to study Arctic issues and understand how we can safely manage and develop projects in the Arctic.”
Oceanic has been involved in Arctic research since its inception and is now enjoying the fruits of its labour, assisting companies considering ventures in the Arctic, drawing on its wealth and history of experience. Hedd refers to such assignments as ‘over the horizon projects’, and says Oceanic’s work is often done long before steel is cut or concrete is poured.
“Currently, everyone is very excited about the Hebron platform that is under construction here,” says Hedd. “We finished our Hebron work about two and a half years ago. Usually we are well out in front of the construction work. We’ve been involved at various stages of all of the offshore platforms here: Hibernia, Hebron, Terra Nova and Sea Rose. It’s exciting because we get to see what’s coming down the pipe.”
Oceanic is currently engaged in feasibility studies for an LNG facility in the Arctic and collaborating with another company to understand the type of infrastructure that would be required to make drilling in the Arctic possible.
Hedd believes that the oil and gas developments being discussed and contemplated for the Arctic will be a catalyst for a better understanding of the Arctic’s challenging environment, and of how to manage and mitigate risk there. As the World’s Cold Ocean LaboratoryTM, Newfoundland and Labrador’s global status as the Path to the ArcticTM looks only to strengthen as this interest in the North increases.
“I don’t think of it as logistical as much as intellectual,” says Hedd. “We (Newfoundland and Labrador) have the infrastructure, the capability and the historical expertise to be that intellectual Path to the ArcticTM…that go-to source for all things Arctic.”