Category description

Air or mixed gas diving is used at depths no greater than 75msw depending of the mix of gas used. At any greater depth than 50msw saturation diving is preferred to avoid the risks of decompression sickness and allow divers to work at depth for longer.

Air or mixed gas diving relies on the supply of breathing gas from the surface. Gases used may be oxygen, or a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen (Nitrox) or oxygen and helium (Heliox). Oxygen and nitrox is used a shallower depths (50msw) with heliox and provide a bottom time of no more than 50 minutes at such depth. Like wise, Heliox may be used down to 75msw however with only 30 minutes bottom time. Depending on the working depth divers may be lowered to depth in a basket or a wet bell.

Air or Nitrox diving requires a team of 5 (Diving Supervisor, working diver, stand-by diver, tender for working diver, tender for stand-by diver), where as a team of 7 is required in Heliox dives (Diving Supervisor, working diver, stand-by diver, tender for working diver, tender for stand-by diver, short notice surface standby and tender) 

Risks & Opportunities

Value opportunities and risks are features or requirements that may add or detract from the overall value offered. To ensure value is maximized attention should be given to the following areas:

  • Personnel Experience - Due to the inherent risk involved in diving personnel stringent licensing must take place to verify the diving competency of diving personnel. IMCA recommends divers hold a minimum of 200 logged offshore dives (air or mixed gas) to depth below 30 meters as well as logged verification of at least 10 previous wet bell dives. In addition to this the divers competencies need to be assessed against the work in land and prior similar experience should be demonstrated to ensure a safe and cost efficient operation.
  • Operating Limits - Depending on the working depths divers will be restricted to a set period of time working at this depth. A table of time and depths is provided in "Technical Insights" however as a guide at 50m to 75m no more than 30 minutes should be allowed at the bottom. Following at such depths, and depending on the work in hand, another form of diving (such as SAT) may be more appropriate removing the need for multiple divers to accommodate such short bottom times as well as providing a more cost and time effective solution.

Supply & Demand Dynamics

Supply and Demand

Air Diving Services are used in both greenfield and brownfield activities. New offshore projects as well as ongoing maintenance of the ageing offshore platforms drives the demand for Air Diving Services. Both these areas typically suffer during low oil prices as new projects get cancelled or deferred and maintenance activities are scaled back to the minimum. 

Divers and equipment are in strong supply. This is further enhanced by the weak oil prices.

Key Players

The following suppliers operate regionally within the GCC providing Air Diving services:

  • Canyon Offshore
  • DeepOcean Group
  • DOF Subsea
  • Harkand
  • Saipem
  • Technip
  • Boskalis
  • Dulam International
  • Halul Offshore Services
  • Oceaneering
  • Horizon Geoscience
  • CCC
  • Fugro
  • Impresub
  • NPCC
  • Marine Engineering Diving Services

External Scanning

Buyer's are in a very dominant position due to the competition amongst Suppliers' for market share across a small number of opportunities. Furthermore, risk of new "cheap" entry is always possible.

Portfolio Positioning

Portfolio positioning is essential in guiding strategy within the category. The category is positioned based upon three factors; 1) supply risk, 2) profit/value risk, and 3) power structure.

Based upon a detailed analysis the sub-category is positioned as a ROUTINE sub-category (ie. low supply risk, low profit/value risk).

  • Low supply risk is supported by; 1) the large selection of suppliers, 2) the ease of switching, 3) the standardization of equipment, 4) low competitive demand with regional buyers.
  • Low/medium profit/value risk is determined by; 1) the low levels of expenditure, 2) low value generation.
  • Power is strongly favored towards the Buyer (See External Scanning section)

Total Cost of Ownership

The compensation methodology should remain simple and transparent. Where the services is provided as part of a larger package of services the Air Diving package will be provided within the daily rate of the vessel/spread or the lump sum provided.

Where Air Diving services are to be located on the the Buyer provided vessel the compensation methodology should include:

  • Mobilisation and Demobilisation Charge - usually on a per mob/demob basis,
  • Operating Day Rate - usually a daily charge for ROV per 24hrs,
  • Personnel Day Rate - usually a daily charge for Personnel per 12hrs,

It must be noted that where the Air Diving Services are provided onboard the Buyer's vessel, breakdowns in the vessel or the diving spread result in charges being incurred despite no work actually being performed. Following, it is appropriate to carry out a risk analysis to understand where these risk are most appropriately managed based upon the scope of work, budget and time constraints.


The sub-category analysis carried out presents a strong case for a strategy that maintains or further maximizes the power of the buyer. 

There are a number of ways in achieving this however the items should be considered:

  • Aggregate Spend - Buyer's should look to leverage regional spend across the sub-categories given the commonality of suppliers in the category. This may include Air or SAT Diving Services.
  • Competitive Tender - Tenders should be conducted to ensure maximum competition,
  • Negotiation Style - Supplier should be approached with direct and hard (slightly aggressive) negotiations. The buyer should capitalize on market intelligence and seek to target prices based upon their understanding of costs and market conditions. Buyer's should target profit margins,

In general the sub-category strategy is focused upon a traditional arm length relationship with the suppliers.