The annual Offshore Support Journal Conference & Awards in London closed its first day with a gala dinner where hundreds of delegates from around the industry gathered to show appreciation to the businesses and individuals who are pushing the industry forward.
In a crowded field, nominees were shortlisted and industry voting determined winners for categories including support vessel of the year, shipowner of the year, innovation of the year, contributions to environmental practices, offshore renewables, subsea innovation, dynamic positioning, safety, industry leadership and Offshore Support Journal's award for a lifetime's achievement.
Topaz Energy and Marine chief executive René Kofod-Olsen took home the Industry Leader Award sponsored by Uptime International for his trend-setting work in exploring new markets, deal making, innovation and safety.
Edwin Lampert, head of content at Riviera Maritime Media said “René is a worthy winner. In his roles at AP Møller-Mærsk, Svitzer and latterly Topaz, he has set direction, built an inspiring vision and created something new. At the same time, he has used finely-honed management skills to guide the people and companies he has led to the right destination in a smooth and efficient way.”
“We would also highlight the industry leadership he has shown in driving strategy, including through capital raising and restructuring. And we would emphasise his commitment to technology and the brave new world of digitisation. A topic he has spoken with real authority on as part of various leadership panels at OSJ conferences over the years.”
Accepting his award, Mr Kofod-Olsen said the industry was faced with a choice, the same choice his company made: adapt and survive or die.
“We as an industry … we have all had to navigate some prolonged high seas. We have all had to adapt to a brand new norm, and in many ways, the way we were structured coming into this crisis may not be the way we are structured coming out of this crisis,” he said.
“We have had to adapt, we have been through a transformation process. We regard ourselves more as a marine logistics company today, and we will continue to try to disrupt ourselves every day and to continue to deliver for our clients.”
Mr Kofod-Olsen dedicated the award to the people at Topaz Marine and Energy.
“At the end of the day, this is for our people. They make the company that we work for. In Topaz, I believe we have earned our right of passage.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Kjersti Kleven, co-owner and chair of the board of the Norwegian shipbuilding group Kleven Verft Maritime AS.
As the largest privately-owned shipyard group in Norway, Kleven operates two shipyards with 700 employees. Ms Kleven has steered her business into new markets, including fish-farming, cable laying and passenger vessels to navigate through the downturn in the oil and gas sector.
Ms Kleven was appointed chair of SEA Europe in July 2017 and has served as a board member and chair of the Norwegian Association of Maritime Industries for seven years. She is on the boards of multiple companies and is a member of the standing Advisory Committee on Maritime Strategy chaired by the Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry.
Accepting her award, Ms Kleven said that challenges lay ahead, but she remained positive.
“As we have heard in all the seminars today, there are still challenges ahead for all of us in this room. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to receive this award, today.”
“I must say that I am a believer,” she said. “I am a believer in shipbuilding in Europe, and I am a strong believer in all the maritime industries in Europe.”
Ms Kleven said the importance of the maritime cluster could not be overstated and that the maritime industry had a long future.
“Shipbuilding has been deemed a sunset enterprise many times. But we are still here, and we are here to stay. And the maritime tech industries – without the shipowners – are creating values of US$90Bn a year and are creating jobs for 540,000 people,” she said.
“The ocean is our most important resource, and when you are going to care for, harvest, explore or even enjoy it, you need ships. And we have the maritime technology and skills for this now and also into the future.”
Other award winners included Maersk Master for support vessel of the year, Global Marine Group for shipowner of the year, Huisman Equipment for innovation of the year, Eidesvik Offshore and Wärtsilä for the joint contributions they made to an energy storage solution on Viking Princess, Bibby Marine for the offshore renewables award, Tasik Subsea for the subsea innovation award, Kongsberg Maritime for the dynamic positioning award and the Marine Safety Forum for the safety award.
You can wach a selection of interviews with our award winners on YouTube: