Oil and gas industry must learn lessons to survive

Oil and gas companies must learn lessons from other industries that have survived severe economic downturns in order to thrive in the long-term, according to new research.

Business needs a fundamental shift in competing for North Sea oil investment, report says. Picture: Hamish Campbell

A report on the future of the industry says firms should follow the example set by the automotive, aerospace, rail and chemical industries, which have all weathered challenging times.

Businesses need a “fundamental shift” in the way they operate to successfully compete for international investment in the North Sea and boost recovery after the recent plunge in oil prices, the report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Oil and Gas Industry Council concluded.

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It warns firms against making short-term tactical cuts rather than focusing on longer-term structural changes to achieve the 30% to 40% improvement in efficiency recommended by regulator the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).

The report highlights seven “tried and tested” steps it says could transform operations of companies in the UK continental shelf (UKCS) in a similar way to leading companies such as Rolls-Royce, Bombardier and Jaguar Land Rover.

These include improving leadership in the industry, encouraging more innovation, boosting collaboration between firms and supporting the development of the OGA.

Gordon Colborn, from PwC in Scotland, said: “There is no one silver bullet that can solve the range of issues currently facing the oil and gas industry - instead there are seven that we believe can transform, modernise and re-energise operations across the UKCS.

“These seven fundamental steps are pragmatic lessons that have been transformational in other major industries and are highly relevant to those firms working in the North Sea.

“The alternative approach is the status quo - acknowledging a short lifespan of the UKCS and an acceleration towards decommissioning.

“I believe this industry can have a sustainable future but we need to take a more strategic and integrated view if we are to extend the life of the North Sea for everyone involved and for future generations. It’s time to act.”

Stephen Marcos Jones, business development director at Oil and Gas UK, added: “As this basin is faced with being competitive in a global marketplace, it is essential industry acts quickly and determinedly to address its cost and efficiencies challenges.

“We can learn a lot of other successful UK industries, to support both operations on the UK continental shelf and Britain’s world-class supply chain.

“If this sector is to thrive for decades ahead, co-operation and relationship optimisation will be key.”

The report was published as the annual Oil and Gas Industry Conference gets under way in Aberdeen.