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2023 reflections and 2024 predictions from Manfred Vonlanthen, CEO of Swire Energy Services

Posted 22 Dec 2023

In the ever-evolving energy sector, the turn of each year brings with it an important time for reflection and planning for the future.

As 2023 draws to a close, we sit down with Manfred Vonlanthen, Swire Energy Services’ CEO, for a conversation around the challenges, opportunities and successes from the past 12 months, and predictions for what lies ahead in 2024.

What have been the major trends, challenges and opportunities facing the energy sector in 2023?

“After a period of cautious spending, we’ve seen a resurgence in investment in offshore projects, including exploration in new fields and the redevelopment of existing ones. However volatile energy prices continue to impact the industry, influencing investment decisions and operational planning.

“There has also been a significant shift across the offshore oil and gas sector towards more sustainable practices, with companies investing in cleaner technologies and methods to reduce the environmental impact of their operations, and we’re starting to see greater adoption of digital and AI-based technologies to optimise operations, enhance safety and improve decision making processes.

“From a challenges perspective, there has continued to be ongoing global supply chain issues impacting the timely delivery of equipment and services. The energy sector also faces a talent gap, with a strong need for more skilled professionals in technical and operational areas, which means more needs to be done with less.

“However with challenges come great opportunities, and the past 12 months have been exciting and optimistic for the industry. We have seen developing regions offering new opportunities for exploration and expansion, balancing the focus between traditional and emerging markets, and there continues to be a growing opportunity for offshore oil and gas companies to integrate with exciting renewables projects, such as offshore wind, carbon capture and hydrogen generation.

“There has also been a significant opportunity for companies to actively contribute to reducing their carbon footprint, and make the industry more sustainable, and it’s been exciting to see the different approaches being implemented.”

How did Swire embrace these over the past 12 months?

“We have been focused on establishing Swire Energy Services as a more dynamic organisation, one which can adapt quicker to challenging market environments. This enabled us to become more resilient to the volatility in the market, and this has paid out.

“This includes the implementation of new technology for refurbishment of our fleet (robotisation) and the establishment of strategic partnerships around the world. We also further diversified our business on a global scale, which can be seen in our aviation division, to provide us with the opportunity to extend our market share in all the geographies we already operate in.

“2023 was also a strong year for us from a sustainability perspective. We have a very clear target to become carbon net zero by 2030, and we’ve continued to proactively implement carbon reducing initiatives across our operations over the past year.”

What were Swire’s biggest achievements in 2023?

“We established our end-to-end aviation services on a global basis, and surpassed our sustainability target and emission reduction for 2023. These are two huge successes for our team.

“We also mobilised our products and services for customers in a safe and timely manner, even where availability of equipment has been a challenge, and achieved growth in almost all regions where we operate - particularly the Middle East, Brazil and South East Asia.

“None of this would have been possible without our dedicated and experienced employees who are willing to go the extra mile when needed, or our loyal customers around the world who we are extremely grateful for. A huge thank you to you all!”

What has been your personal highlight from the past 12 months?

“There are many, but what I have been most impressed with is how our global teams have risen to the challenges of high increase in demand in combination with all the challenges like resource shortages, supply chain disruption, cost pressure and still operating safely and with high quality.

“We have also celebrated several important safety milestones this year, including being LTI-free for 16 years in the US, 4,000 days in Nigeria, and 10 years in Brazil.”

What changes are you anticipating in the energy sector in 2024, and how is Swire preparing for them?

“We are in an upcycle of oil and gas with increased activity, as all the sanctioned projects start to materialise. However I believe the sector will remain volatile, and companies need to be able to react and adapt quickly to changes.

“Focusing on making the oil and gas industry more sustainable will remain key going forward. This is important to secure a smooth and long-term transition from hydrocarbon-based energy sources to a more renewable energy system. Oil and gas will be a key part of the energy system for a long time, but development and production needs to become more sustainable.”

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