The key objective of innovation at SBM Offshore is to bring to market solutions that are in line with the Company’s strategy, in particular those related to the Energy Transition. All parts of the organization are encouraged to contribute to innovations in their field of expertise. The development of new technology, related to core products specifically, is managed by the Group Technology Department. Technology development and innovation programs are aligned with the long-term strategies of the Product Lines and with key programs such as emissionZEROTM and Fast4Ward®. Development roadmaps are kept up to date with technical and market developments through regular reviews.

SBM Offshore brings new technology to market through a structured stage-gate process to ensure that the technology is properly validated before being offered for sale or introduced into projects. This Technology Readiness Level (TRL) process is based on American Petroleum Institute standards (API RP17N) and includes prototype testing and full FEED level definition of new systems as part of the qualification requirements.

The Company manages its IP portfolio by registering patents and trademarks, as well as through securing trade secrets and know how. To ensure IP integrity, the Company manages the classification of documents and non disclosure agreements with partners and ensures restricted access to technology-sensitive documents. Freedom-to-operate checks are conducted to ensure respect for third-party rights. Through this approach, risks associated with Technological Developments are mitigated (see section 1.4.2).

2020 Performance

In 2020, the Company continued the trend of increasingly diversifying its development efforts in emerging technologies associated with gas, power and renewable energies, exceeding the target of allocating 30% of the technology budget to non-carbon technology developments. Some of the main development projects undertaken in 2020 include :

  • The continued development of the Company’s unique Floating Offshore Wind TLP concept for an increased range of water depths, more severe environmental conditions and large turbines. The concept has been adopted by the PGL floating wind farm development project and has entered the EPC phase.
  • The completion of the design and fabrication of the first sections of the innovative S3® Wave Energy Converter (WEC) project at SBM Offshore’s R&D Laboratory. The project is on track to deliver a prototype in the water in 2022.
  • The design and technology qualification of a topside module to capture CO2 from FPSO gas turbine exhaust.
  • The visual inspection of void tanks on an FPSO using a remotely operated drone, witnessed by a surveyor from the Classification Society.
  • The development of a concept for a new Floating Power Generation Unit based on a converted LNG carrier.
  • The development of a floating renewable hydrogen production concept based on the Company’s Floating Offshore Wind TLP design.

During 2020, a total of 34 TRL steps on various technology development projects were passed and the Company filed 8 new patent applications to strengthen its existing portfolio of 158 patent families; in particular in the area of renewables and digital applications. Over the course of 2020, four innovation projects reached market-ready status.


The Company continues to focus its technology development activities on the energy transition by allocating more than 50% of its technology development budgets to non-carbon technologies. These include investments in topside technologies to deliver the ambitions of the Company’s emissionZEROTM FPSO program. The Company will also continue to invest in research and development for its innovative S3® Wave Energy Converter and Floating Offshore Wind solutions.