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Hyperbaric and wider subsea testing market assessment


The aim of the study was to examine the potential for a range of subsea testing facilities in Scotland, covering: large scale hyperbaric testing; vibration table testing; environmental chamber testing; test pit access; hyperbaric rescue services; and additional qualifications for trained divers.


The methodology consisted of a market scoping study of existing literature, and face to face and telephone interviews with key UK industry players, identified by subsea UK researchers as being either users or providers in the six areas of the market study. The interviews were supplemented with an online survey of all Subsea UK member companies, plus another 100 who were identified in the scoping research.


It was found that testing is of particular importance to the subsea sector, but that only the hyperbaric testing market has grown appreciably. All interviewees reported an increase in testing requirements, both in terms of frequency and stringency, including a noticeable growth in the requirement for deeper testing capability as offshore developments in deep-water increase. It was found that, post-Macondo, there has been an across-the-market change in at least four specific areas of testing practice: batch testing, scaling, test cycles, and wider range of testing. The study identified that the hyperbaric testing market has currently unfulfilled requirements for large scale deep-water testing facilities, and it is suggested that the knowledge and hyperbaric testing experience in Aberdeen has the potential to be developed to become a global centre for knowledge and training in hyperbaric testing. While it was not possible to quantify precise figures for the whole hyperbaric testing market due to the reluctance of companies to provide commercial information, National Hyberbaric Centre figures indicated that there was around a 65% increase on sales enquiries on hyperbaric testing between 2010 and 2015. With regards to the market for hyperbaric rescue services, it was found that this probably did not increase over the same period, and that it may even have contracted over the last year due to the general downturn in the industry. The report found that there are currently two areas of deficiency in service in the hyperbaric rescue market: lack of standard industry approaches to HRF (hyperbaric rescue facility) strategy; and the absence of a standard industry approach to the support of launched self-propelled hyperbaric lifeboats (SPHLs).


The report does not make any specific recommendations, however it is suggested that as there are currently around a dozen UK manufacturing companies who do not market their hyperbaric testing facilities, this could present an opportunity for a supply chain initiative to manage and coordinate the facilities. With regards to the safety of SPHLs, it is suggested that the climate exists for an industry-wide initiative to address concerns over this, by: adopting a rapid response rescue vehicle (RRRV) style service; and the agreement of an industry-wide arrangement by diving contractors under which their HRFs and life support packages (LSPs) were shared and strategically located in ports around the UK to enable the reception of any launched SPHL.

Author Scottish Enterprise
Published Year 2016
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Sectors
    Digital markets and enabling technologies, Energy