Aberdeen to host summit for beleaguered oil industry

Council chiefs are to stage a second summit to help the North Sea oil industry deal with the continuing downturn.

The summit aims to help steer the oil sector through a 'particularly challenging period'. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing announced the authority is to stage the event in the city at the end of this month as the sector goes through a “particularly challenging period”.

The summit will bring together industry leaders, academics and trade unions as well as local politicians and figures from the UK and Scottish governments.

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The council staged a similar event last year and oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood said the city is “beginning to face up to the challenges of its long-term economic future after the complacency of a strong North Sea-dominated era”.

Wood, who is also chair of the Opportunity North East group, said: “Maximising economic recovery in the UK Continental Shelf remains a priority, alongside beginning the work that will transition Aberdeen from the European oil and gas operations centre to a global hub for energy-related technology innovation and development.”

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He said the City Region Deal, which is being funded by both Holyrood and Westminster, had “secured significant funds to support innovation and diversification, and One is now tackling the growth of the region’s other key industry sectors, which include food, drink and agriculture, life sciences and tourism”.

Wood added: “We now have much better alignment between industry, local government and the agencies, and this will provide a sound platform to address the challenges of economic diversification and growth.”

Laing said the council has “continued to work with partners on tackling the difficult issues within the north-east”, adding the “downturn that we are currently experiencing in the oil and gas industry has brought the need for innovation and diversification”.

She added: “The announcement of the City Region Deal was welcomed as a step in maximising the economic recovery but it is vital that we continue to explore new technologies, ensuring we sustain the industry and build on our reputation that Aberdeen is an innovative place to do business.

“While I believe we are currently going through a particularly challenging period, the support shown for the region has been extremely encouraging.”

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of the industry body Oil & Gas UK, said: “Much has been done in the past year to tackle our challenges. Industry is working hard to be more competitive, more co-operative and more efficient in order to get through this downturn.

“These are exceptionally tough times and now, more than ever, we need to be pulling together to secure the future for the North Sea, which still holds billions of barrels of oil and gas.”