Get real… If all the systems being discussed were actually built, we’d run out of construction capacity pretty quickly. We’ve always been an industry wary of over-committing, but the ‘hypothetical’ cables do seem to have gone up a notch. It’s difficult to know if there’s a solution to this, but we’ll build more efficiently and reduce overall industry costs if we reduce the start-stop nature of some projects.
The real economics. We found lots of stakeholders with an opinion on economic viability of cable systems. The Finance panel were pretty clear in their belief that the demand for ongoing build was there and the sector should look ahead with confidence. However, there is a different view when it comes down to considering whether the business cases genuinely stack up against realistic build costs. This is about raising the profile of engineering and route risk within the business case stage.
Cost of capacity is one thing, cost of capacity on an appropriately engineered route is another. A warrant from the installer against a price ceiling will not make up for a lack of risk mitigation in the business planning stage.
Breaking new ground – and ice. It was great to hear about projects in the far North with Quintllion and Cinia at different stages of development. These guys are testing the waters for specific risks such as ice scouring and build timing and seem to be making great progress. We also heard about an innovative 5 track approach to the evaluation stage from Cinia’s J-P – this is a model we think will be adopted in principle going forward on other builds.
What happened to the environment? What didn’t seem to get much airtime this year was marine environment considerations. At Pelagian we’ve always taken the view that the job is to get the cable built, with appropriate environmental care being taken both for marine and terrestrial construction. Are we seeing a settling down of expectations with a more pragmatic view of the actual impact cables have in the marine environment?
An Asia-centred subsea world? Just looking out over the harbour towards Indonesia from the Altitude bar underlines the scale of shipping activity happening around Singapore and into an Asian hub. Whether it be cargo or data this is an intensely busy commercial centre. Unsurprisingly, we’re all expecting to see SNW grow again in 2018 – we’ll be reflecting that growth with the opening of our Pelagian Asia office later this year.