The Last Word

Diving Critical Activity Specialist/Project Implementation, ExxonMobil Global Projects Company

By Tony Greenwood

UNDERWATER Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Tony Greenwood, Diving Critical Activity Specialist/Project Implementation, ExxonMobil Global Projects Company.

UNDERWATER MAGAZINE: How did you get involved in commercial diving?

I always loved the water as a kid and began diving when I was in the Navy. In 1993 after I left the Navy, I entered the commercial diving industry, enrolling in dive school at the Ocean Corporation. I have been involved in diving ever since. I worked mostly for U.S.-based offshore dive contractors for the bulk of my career, starting as a diver/tender, and working my way up through surface and saturation supervisor. As many do when the family grows, I left the field and entered the office in roles such as project management, equipment support, operations and HSE compliance and training. This really helped me get a fuller awareness of how the industry works as a whole.

UM: What are your responsibilities at your current job?

I manage the Diving Center of Expertise for ExxonMobil, and our role is to support and champion diving safety. I’m a member of a team of specialists responsible for ensuring that diving is planned and performed safely on ExxonMobil projects and worksites. We perform dive contractor qualifying audits/inspections, develop safe work practices and provide technical support to our engineering teams and dive contractors. I also represent ExxonMobil in industry forums, such as the (IOGP) Diving Operations Safety Committee and the International Diving Industry Forum (IDIF).

UM: How have you been involved with ADCI?

Over my career I have had the pleasure of supporting the ADCI’s Saturation Safety Committee, have routinely participated in the Gulf Coast Chapter meetings, and have been on several technical review teams. In my role with IOGP DOSC, I get to work closely with members of the ADCI’s board and committees, where we jointly work together to address current industry challenges and issues

UM: What has been the most rewarding part of your career in the underwater industry?

Well it might be cliché, but probably the friendships and comradery gained through almost 30 years of close working relationships. I love this industry, and many of the people I’ve met and worked with along the way. In addition to this, being a part of some key projects that involved state-of-the-art diving support vessels, saturation diving systems and cutting-edge tooling. It’s a great industry if you want to really “geek out” on technology and “big boy toys.” But the real reward has been in training and sharing with others. I really enjoyed my years as an instructor, teaching dive supervisor courses and having the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences that could help the next guy.

UM: How would you like to see ADCI approach these?

I think the efforts of the ADCI and those individuals that support it have been fantastic. We have seen real action, whether it’s auditing and inspection of members for improvement, generating ships husbandry diving guidance, optimizing the certification scheme or working with industry forums, such as IOGP and IMCA, the ADCI is doing, not just talking.

UM: What types of issues are most prevalent in the industry now? How would you like to see ADCI approach these?

On the challenging side, I would say contractors having to adjust to shrinking budgets and cost-reduction measures, while maintaining operational integrity is probably first. This is nothing new, but if not managed well, creates potential for removing essential safeguards that help reduce risk to the working diver.

Skill fade from a rapidly reducing workforce, and the retiring of a prevalent generation of underwater workers is also creating a void in personnel resources. Some regions are having trouble finding experienced and skilled diving competent workers. This is a global phenomenon, not just specific to any region.

Industry-wide, 2019 was a hazardous year, with many preventable accidents. No one should accept this, and we must improve as an industry. It must be a team effort, clients, contractors, regulators and the individual diver; everyone must work together to help ensure the lessons from these incidents are applied and that we prevent these tragedies from happening again.

On the positive side, there is an amazing increase in collaboration with many industry forums, trade organizations and regulatory agencies, all with the common goal of increasing safety and reducing risk to the diving workforce. It’s important to recognize the value in this collaboration as this is where many shares and solutions come from which effect change for the better.

UM: Where will the industry be in five years?

In some sectors, such as oil & gas, and civil IRM diving support, I think there will continue to be a demand for highly-qualified diving and ROV contractors. Where technology influences diving, there will continue to be amazing innovation in ROV and diver-assisted tooling capability. In my position, I get the advantage of seeing how so many companies leverage technology to advance these capabilities, and at such an amazing pace.