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Is Australian Manufacturing Capable of Sustaining Our Oil & Gas Infrastructure?

How capable are Australia’s manufacturers in delivering sustainment services to Oil & Gas infrastructure? This investment is so vital to our export economy and our way of life.

A recent road trip and several conversations with major Oil & Gas companies about plant sustainment and equipment supply highlighted several issues. A common theme was the importance of maintaining local capability, and more generally, the limited knowledge of what can be serviced by the Australian supply chain. These conversations inspired our Managing Director Louie Chouaifaity to reflect on the sector’s landscape and how much it has changed over the last 35 plus years since LA Services began working in this sector.

Reduction in Capability Awareness

There are perhaps two aspects as to why capability awareness has reduced:

1. The industry’s SMEs are generally not outward-facing and hence fail to provide a market presence that delivers compelling stories about capabilities, workforce skills and in-house knowledge that could improve awareness.
2. The very real decline in capacity (being the number of businesses servicing this specialised infrastructure segment) is potentially perceived as a decline in capability too.
Both factors, further compounded with changing procurement strategies over time, seems to have eroded knowledge of the local supply chain.

The Future Strategy

Acknowledging that individual manufacturers need to address their modernisation strategies, the Oil & Gas sector also needs to be thinking about local capability (workshops & personnel) that are available to supply, maintain, modify and repair industrial pressure equipment. Both capacity and capability should perhaps be mapped against the scale and geography of Oil & Gas investments and considered as a sovereign capability or contingency plan for facility owners. Consistently supporting the Australian supply chain would ultimately improve performance, capacity and develop capability, and in doing so deliver assurance that our critical Oil & Gas infrastructure can be supported quickly and effectively if the unexpected happens.