Oil & Gas UK’s first Annual Conference opened yesterday. It features over 70 leading speakers from industry and both the UK and Scottish Governments.
The conference, sponsored by Petrotechnics and supported by Costain Upstream, is chaired by Oil & Gas UK chief executive Malcolm Webb who commented: “The next couple of days present us all with the opportunity to consider, debate and exchange views on the next phase of operations for our industry in the UK and how we can improve the current outlook.”
Webb proceeded to explain the purpose of the conference, noting that Oil & Gas UK is clear that radical change is needed if the UK is to maximise economic recovery from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS):
“Whilst current capital expenditure is at all-time high, exploration is in crisis, our cost base is increasing and average productivity levels have slumped.”
“We simply cannot go on like this. We need radical improvement in regulation, in taxation and in the very way we conduct our operations if the UKCS is to be competitive again on the global stage – and let us not kid ourselves, right now we are not winning that competitive battle.”
Webb also argued the need to address the current situation in a timely manner: “We need to act urgently because the penalty for indecision will be permanent loss of indigenous oil and gas resource and the jobs, the taxes and the security of energy supply which that yet to be recovered oil and gas can provide.”
In addition to discussing his hopes for both Sir Ian Wood’s recent report and the upcoming Fiscal Review, Malcolm Webb commented that the current regulatory and fiscal frameworks are: “not the only areas ripe for change”, noting that Oil & Gas UK has structured its conference to enable delegates to join the debate on a whole spectrum of other relevant and highly topical issues from health and safety to environmental matters.
Webb emphasised Oil & Gas UK’s neutral stance on the independence referendum, stating: “This is of course a hugely important matter – but it is one for the people of Scotland and their politicians to debate and decide. Our role as the industry trade association is to respect the democratic mandate which emerges from the vote on 18th September and then engage with and represent our industry within the political reality which then prevails.”
The Annual Conference was formally opened by Scotland’s First Minister, the Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP. Salmond outlined his vision for the industry north of the border – emphasising the importance of consultation, stability and stewardship.
Oil & Gas UK Board Co-Chairs Trevor Garlick, Regional President North Sea for BP and John Pearson, Group President AMEC Europe, gave their views on an operating in the North Sea and Oil & Gas UK’s 2014 priorities respectively.