Note: Text in italics is extracted from India’s Blue Economy A Draft Policy Framework issued September 2020.
In Sept 2020, The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister Government of India (New Delhi) issued “A Draft Policy Framework – India’s Blue Economy”. India’s Blue Economy vision is to capitalize on the vast Oceanic Reserves, Oceanic Energy, and undertake Oceanic Research, all this will need subsea intervention (Diving /ROV/AUV/MUV).
The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM), in pursuance of the Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s thrust on the Blue Economy, has taken up the initiative to evolve a policy approach to the Blue Economy. Given the gaps and involvement of several Ministries, Departments, and Agencies working in this domain, there is an urgent need for a unified and coordinated effort to address issues because they have macro-economic implications.
The draft policy has rightfully identified the need to learn from global best practices. There is a need to establish active scientific collaborations with leading countries/institutions to develop suitable scientific tools and methodologies relevant to Blue Economy measurement and management. Indeed a very carefully drafted Policy Statement, wonderful work undertaken by Dr. Mrs. Sumita Misra, Senior Adviser, EAC-PM, and all the members of the 7 working groups setting a strong foundation/stepping stone to draft a ROBUST Policy Statement.
Extract from India’s Blue Economy Draft Policy (Draft) in Italics.
(A) National Accounting Framework for Blue Economy and Ocean Governance
3.1 The size of the Blue Economy in India has conservatively been estimated to be about 4% of Gross Domestic Product. It is likely to be even higher if the methodology is improved. A new robust
mechanism needs to be devised to collect data for estimating the Blue Economy in India. The first step should be to constitute an Expert Group to identify sectors and sub-sectors/ activities, which fall under the purview of the Blue Economy.
3.2 In this context, India needs to learn from global best practices. For this, there is a need to establish active scientific collaborations with leading countries/institutions to develop suitable scientific tools and methodologies relevant to Blue Economy measurement and management.
3.3 In order to generate reliable data regarding the Blue Economy, the following recommendations
• Enlarge the 2008 National Industrial Classification to accommodate various untapped activities associated with the blue economy.
• Engage with all relevant ministries for the collection of data.
• Constitute or identify an official agency to secure relevant data at the dis-aggregated industry level.
• Intervene in the formative process of the UN International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) Revision 5.
It is important to note that Offshore Commercial Marine, Diving, and ROV operations are critical to the below mention activities associated with Blue Economy.
Oil and Gas + Minerals
- Remedial works on existing subsea architecture
- Inspection Maintenance and Repair of existing subsea architecture
- Brown Field Works
- Greenfield Development (Concept-FEED-Manufacturing-Installation-Commissions)
- Deepsea Mining
- Wind, Wave, and Tidal Energy harnessing.
Earth Sciences activities (Research)
- Climate Change
- Coastal Studies
- Aquatic creature research
- Various Defense Support activities.
Thus, Sectors and Subsectors/ activities which should also fall under the purview of the Blue Economy are listed below.
- Commercial Diving Operations
- Remote Operated Vehicles
- Marine Operation in support of Specialised subsea activity.
There is a lot that can be accomplished using ROV’s (Remotely Operated Vehicles) today, despite that the most cost-effective subsea intervention for subsea construction and installation continues to be diving, especially for countries that are NOW embarking on their Blue Economy Journey and most of their development is in coastal water ow where subsea low visibility is a challenge even in deeper waters. Countries like Norway and Oil and Gas Major MnC’s like Shell and BP are pioneers for promoting Diverless intervention, however, the articulation and dexterity that can be achieved by a diver with technological support for subsea construction in the depth of 0-300 MSW (meters of seawater) cannot be refuted by any experienced subsea intervention professional. Offshore and Subsea are unforgiving environments and to be able to execute an offshore subsea project successfully needs a team that has relevant experience, competence, and resources to be functional within the framework of Legislation an inadequacy in any of the aforesaid will definitely lead to a near miss, incident or accidents usually with a catastrophic outcome. The skillset for Diving and ROV personnel will need capacity building on an extensive scale.
For depth greater than 300 MSW the subsea architecture has to be designed for driverless installation, commissioning, and IN-Service, installation, maintenance, and repair. The cost is astronomical for such projects.
GLOBAL BEST PRACTICES FOR MARINE, DIVING, AND ROV OPERATIONS ARE PUBLISHED FROM
- IMCA – International Marine Contractors Association.
- IOGO – International Association of Oil and Gas Producers.
- IMO – International Maritime Organisation
Nations that have a Flourishing Blue Economy have a robust Oceanic Operations Management Legislation that includes a Diving Regulation.
- Norway – Revision 5 of NORSOK U-100 – Manned underwater operations.
- UK – Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – Commercial Diving Projects Offshore – Diving at Work Regulations 1997.
- Australia – NOPSEMA – The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority; Manages the Health and Safety of Offshore Diving Operation through a regulatory framework of assurance and compliance.
Although Commercial Diving to support Oil and Gas operations have been ongoing for the last 35-40 years in India, INDIA has yet to enforce a Diving Regulation.
On 18th Feb 2020, a letter of Intent was signed in the presence of Hon’ble Minister of Earth Sciences and Hon’ble Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment between the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India and the Ministry of Climate and Environment, Government of Norway, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Norway for Establishing the Framework for India-Norway Integrated Ocean Management& Research Initiative. The main focus of the LoI will be integrated ocean management, including relevant fields such as marine spatial planning. Under this LoI both the Parties will develop the basis and framework for the India-Norway Integrated Ocean Management & Research Initiative. The NORSOK U-100 – Manned underwater operations is considered as the Gold Standard for Diving Operations the same goes for Norwegian Shipbuilding and Marine Operations. The scope for Establishing the Framework for India-Norway Integrated Ocean Management& Research Initiative may well include the development of an Indian Diving Regulation on the lines of Revision 5 of NORSOK U-100 – Manned underwater operations.
Regulations are needed to protect the legitimate interests of businesses and the community. Strong, responsive regulatory systems help keep the economy as efficient and flexible as possible, and they also help our industries compete in the global economy. Regulations provide assurances about safety, and setting minimum mandated standards, instills confidence in the workforce and the citizens to try something that is traditionally seen as a naval/defense role. The ambitious vision will need to attract civilians (especially Youth) into this new frontier of India’s growth, youth today are aware and tech-savvy to find out the global standards that apply to commercial Diving Operations/Subsea Intervention. Regulations demand that all the stakeholders in a Blue Ocean Project exercise Risk Management and set accountability.
Incidentally, DSV Samudra Suraksha was built in Norway by Ankerlokken and is a multi-purpose support vessel delivered to India’s Oil & Natural Gas Commission in late 1982. DSV Samudra Suraksha DSV sank in 2005 after it collided with BHN on 27th July 2005. This year the P-305 sank on 17th May 2021. In the absence of regulations that govern the safety of these critical operations at Sea, India continues to remain vulnerable to such accidents where the outcome is generally catastrophic loss of life, damage to National Assets and environment/animal, and loss to National Reputation.A replacement plan for the DSV’s (aged 35+ years) operating in Bombay Hight is also long overdue and I see this signing of Letter of Intent between the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India and the Ministry of Climate and Environment, Government of Norway and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Norway for Establishing the Framework for India-Norway Integrated Ocean Management& Research Initiative as a POSITIVE SMALL STEP with a RIGHT PARTNER in the RIGHT DIRECTION.
For the Indian Diving Fraternity, this could literally be a period of metamorphosis from a struggling segment that is at its lowest point and evolve into a segment that plays a crucial and critical role in Capitalising India’s Blue Economy Potential.
SOME BLUE ECONOMY ACTIVITIES (AT OCEAN) THAT REQUIRE SPECIAL OPERATIONS i.e MARINE, DIVING, ROV, AND SURVEY!
Hoping to see this document soon!