During the last week’s EEEGR 2014 Conference, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund – Sir Ian Wood told delegates that good leadership would see the Southern North Sea (SNS) gas industry revitalised.
He said that when he first began his national report for government on maximising the assets of the North Sea oil and gas industry he got the impression the SNS was facing its sunset.
“But from what I’ve seen and listened to since, the area still has lots of potential although it will need a change in behaviour of the operators because we are already a long way down the road. In the right hands it can be revitalised,” said Sir Ian, chairman of J W Holdings.
He believed traditional attitudes and operations would have to change and it was essential to cut costs through technology, collaboration and cluster working – backed by supply chain innovation and support.
It was also important to press Government for a more appropriate tax regime for the gas industry; something to encourage more exploration which would lead to more gas and, ultimately, to higher tax revenue.
He warned of tired facilities and tired operators in the industry but believed the tripartite of working between HM Treasury, the regulator and the industry itself could achieve the recovery of an extra 3-4 billions barrels of North Sea oil and gas over the next two decades.
His recommendations had won the backing of the Prime Minster and Chancellor and, later in the conference, delegates heard from Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex that the Labour Party supported the Wood Review but turning it into reality to produce the maximum benefits would be a major challenge.
He also expected that Labour’s plans to freeze energy prices for 20 months if it formed the next Government would not impact on investment in the SNS – but would help create much more transparency and confidence for consumers.
Greatrex said he was well aware of, and impressed by, the breadth and variety of the mix of energy resources in the East of England and recognised incentives needed to bring investment and job opportunities to the region.
A special break-out session at the conference was held to look more closely at new safety measures for helicopters serving the oil and gas industry
It focused particularly on a requirement that new Category A Emergency Breathing Systems will have to be worn by every passenger on such helicopters. Until that can happen, each passenger must sit by an emergency exit, making many of the central seats temporarily redundant.
Among guest speakers were Alistair Riches, from CHC Helicopter Services, Les Linklater from Step Change in Safety, and Michael Wilder from Petans, the Norwich-based training centre which is planning an intense series of OPITO approved courses to help tackle a major issue for thousands of operatives.