Christian Aas

May 23, 2022

There is death on the windowsill

Seabed Solutions AS

Written by andreas svanlund

After Scanmudring went bankrupt and the company estate  was bought by others, Christian Aas and his former management team had to rethink and readjust. 

– It was a hard blow for us, says Christian. We had built a company that went well and made good money. We had ambitious and satisfied owners in Hightec Vison, but the oil crisis in 2015 hit us hard.

Hightech Vision had bought Scanmudring five years earlier and the company formed the foundation of Hightech Vision’s major investment, Reef Subsea.

– Reef Subsea made a number of heavy investments and the foundation was not strong enough to withstand the challenges that the oil crisis contributed to, says Niels-Henrik Brodtkorb who was Executive Vice President of Reef Subsea at the time. Niels-Henrik is today part of the team at Seabed Solutions.

Scanmudring had for many years delivered good results, but when Reef Subsea went to probate court, it was also the end for Scanmudring.

The management team, as well as some of the key people in the company, joined forces with Hightech Vision to buy the estate and reestablish the company. 

What happened next came as a big surprise.

Seabed Solutions AS

A second bid was submitted, and just like that, the company that they had brought to growth and international success was out of their hands. 

– The second bid was a little higher than what we and Hightech Vision had offered, Christian thinks a bit before continuing.

– It was a hard blow to lose Scanmudring, but it also gave us the opportunity to think new. We had been building subsea excavators and construction machines since 2001 and had valuable expertise within the team.

The setback became an opportunity, the team is now working on a number of new solutions that will bring value to the offshore market in their new company, Seabed Solutions.

 

Less than a meter away a small fly fights a hopeless battle. The squealing wings reveal the strategy the fly has chosen. Harder, try harder!

On the other side of the room, only two meters away, the door is open. Three seconds of flight time and the fly would have won the freedom it so intensely desires. Instead, it will die here on the windowsill.

– More of the same, usually just gives you more of the same, says Christian and looks at the windowsill, «we could have tried to copy what we did in Scanmudring, but instead we took a step back and reorientated ourselves.

One of the most important initiatives the team made was to establish Adepth Minerals.

A company that will locate and extract minerals from the deep sea. They recruited world-leading expertise in minerals and subsea research, which for decades had conducted research along the mineral-rich areas between Svalbard and Jan Mayen.

 

– Extraction of minerals from the seabed will supply the world with minerals that are absolutely necessary for the green shift to be realized, but for the extraction to take place in a sustainable way, without inflicting irreparable damage to life in the deep sea, more data is needed.

Christian Aas,

MD, Seabed Solutions

 

Over the next few years, the world will have to adapt to green technology systems. These technologies are significantly more mineral-intensive than fossil alternatives and the need for minerals will multiply by 2040.

– In Bård Brekke Jørgensen, we had the world’s leading expertise in the development and construction of underwater construction machines., says Christian, before he continues,  Bård had led the construction of the majority of all Scanmudring’s underwater systems and is probably the worlds leading authority on the matter.

By combining Brekke Jørgsensens skills with the expertize of the world’s leading seabed geologists, Seabed Solutions is well preparred to take a position in a new industry that could be lucarative to  Norway and important for  the world.

For the green shift to succeed and the world to avoid the serious consequences of a changing climate, the world must have more minerals than land-based mines are capable of delivering. The largest concentrations of these minerals are found along the continental spreading ridges in the deep sea.

– 90% of the world’s volcanic activity takes place in the deep sea.

The minerals we today dig out on land were once part of the seabed, but millions of years of land uplift, have pressed, crushed, folded and stretched the mineral depots into oars, but he stump is in the deep sea, says Christian.

It is not only Seabed Solutions that has identified the great opportunities that lie in the deep sea.

In the summer of 2021, DeepOcean bought into Adepth Minerals and took over the majority of shares in the company.

Together, the companies are now making a number of investments to ensure that Adepth Minerals is best equipped to start exploration for mineral deposits when the Norwegian continental shelf is opened up for exploration activities.

Christian says that the first major project is a research cruise under the auspices of the University of Bergen.

– Extraction of minerals from the seabed will supply the world with minerals that are absolutely necessary for the green shift to be realized, but for the extraction to take place in a sustainable way, without inflicting irreparable damage to life in the deep sea, more data is needed. The research at the universities is part of this important work, says Christian.

Together with the University, Adepth Minerals and Deep Ocean, Seabed Solutions will in 2023 carry out core drilling using an excavator on Mohnsryggen. No other company has previously performed this type of operation, at these depths using an excavator.

– This is pioneering work, and the operation will undoubtedly be challenging, both due to the depth it will be carried out at, but also the weather conditions so far north provide challenges that must be handled.

The core drilling system that Seabed Solutions is now building on behalf of Adepth Minerals will provide the Norwegian authorities, the university, and the mineral industry with important information about the mineral deposits in the deep sea.

Christian gives the fly a gentle push.. 

– Sometimes harder is not the solution. 

 

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