BP and Wood top brass among execs collaborating to help revive oil and gas sector

A group of experts from oil and gas industry giants including BP and Wood are to help shape the sector’s recovery as it looks beyond the immediate impact of Covid-19.

BP - whose Clair Ridge platform is pictured here - is represented in the group of experts. Picture: Stuart Conway

OGUK, the representative body for the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector, has convened a group of experts to tackle the issue.

BP regional president Ariel Flores; Aker Solutions head of UK and senior vice-president Europe and Africa Sian Lloyd-Rees; Wood’s Asset Solutions chief executive Dave Stewart; Shell’s vice-president of upstream Steve Phimister; and Chrysaor boss Phil Kirk will develop a strategy for the sector to bounce back as part of OGUK’s three-stage framework revealed last month.

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The group will focus on opportunities with short to mid-term impact, to stimulate fresh activity for supply-chain companies. Proposals to bring forward net-zero projects in energy communities across the UK are already at the centre of talks on how to boost business opportunities, with industry leaders set to open discussions with the UK and Scottish governments on carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and floating wind.

The sector is not dead, 'but it is surely on life support,' says Jeanette Forbes. Picture: Malcolm Cochrane Photography.

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OGUK operations director Katy Heidenreich said: “We know that we can’t wait around for a recovery to come to us, which is why we’re already in action to understand where we can support supply-chain companies and identify fresh opportunities in a challenging low oil and gas price environment.”

She said the recovery plan will not only look at how to support the oil and gas industry by improving its competitiveness as a basin, but also how to use this as an opportunity to position itself as an incubator for net zero projects.

“With extensive skills, capabilities and experience, it’s clear our sector will continue to play an important role in meeting as much of the UK’s oil and gas needs from domestic resources, while also shaping up to play an even bigger role in delivering the UK’s net zero ambitions.”

New technologies

Meanwhile, Jeanette Forbes, chief executive of Aberdeen-based PCL Group and Blue Gentoo, is urging the oil and gas sector to tackle its “crisis of confidence” by embracing new technologies.

Forbes – a Women’s Enterprise Scotland Ambassador committed to helping women pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – flagged fears of a “perfect storm” for Scotland’s North-east economy.

However, she said the sector must capitalise on the potential of natural gas, which will require new technology to develop as well as moving the industry closer to its net zero goals. The commodity will be a key resource over the next 40 to 50 years, she added.

“While demand for oil may fall, demand for gas is forecast to rise because it is a critical part of the global move to renewable energy.”

She continued; “The sector already has the skills that are transferable to the larger gas industry and we need to grasp the initiative and ensure the current ‘crisis of confidence’ which has understandably knocked us all doesn’t escalate into a serious downturn for the region, which would see us lose valuable talent out of the sector and out of the North-east. This industry will require some serious investment if we are to move into the ’new normal’.”

Blue Gentoo, based in Inverurie, recently acquired the Ommica technology developed by the Lux Assure team in Edinburgh. It said Ommica is the only test developed for methanol analysis in an offshore environment, allowing the operator to get accurate results within the hour and effectively manage the crude oil being produced, prior to its final journey to the refinery or point of sale.

Forbes concluded: “This sector is not dead, but it is surely on life support. Transitioning into the next era will require the help from those strong enough to visualise the future and lead the move into natural gas and the era of net zero. Our technology is world-leading and we need to drive it forward through this key moment in its history towards a renewable future of net zero by 2035.”

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