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Norfolk Business Awards 2018

EEEGR SNS 2018: Experts share views on opportunities and challenges for energy industry

What will 2018 hold for the East of England's energy industry? Picture: Innogy

What will 2018 hold for the East of England's energy industry? Picture: Innogy

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As the energy industry’s biggest conference in the East of England gets underway, some of the sector’s leading lights express their views on the opportunities and challenges 2018 will bring.

Simon Gray, chief executive of the East of England energy group. Picture: TMS MediaSimon Gray, chief executive of the East of England energy group. Picture: TMS Media

Simon Gray, East of England Energy Group chief executive

Our greatest opportunity for 2018 is the management of the transition to a low carbon economy, as we stop burning coal and turn to lower carbon solution such as generation from gas and zero carbon alternatives.

This transition creates new opportunities for the sector which should see increases in jobs in these sectors, particularly in our region where we have the largest windfarms in the world being installed off our coast and the potential for two nuclear power stations (Sizewell C and Bradwell B).

Greater clarity is needed from government on their energy strategy particularly post-Brexit.

Belinda Ikazoboh, manager at Bacton gas terminal for Shell UK. Picture: TMS MediaBelinda Ikazoboh, manager at Bacton gas terminal for Shell UK. Picture: TMS Media

Will there be tariffs on imported gas and electricity we receive from the interconnectors and liquified natural gas? Will we increase targets for UK content in major UK infrastructure projects such as the developments of new gas fields, decommissioning projects and offshore wind farms? Will there be investment in infrastructure and skills and training provision to assist the industry in replacing skills we used to utilise from Europe?

Belinda Ikazoboh, Bacton manager for Shell UK

Shell UK and industry efforts to be competitive and resilient through the price-cycle are proving worthwhile.

We are working towards unlocking further production in the Southern North Sea (SNS), and we look forward to playing our part in opportunities to innovate and collaborate to drive more and cleaner energy solutions for the future.

Jim Crawford is EDF Energy’s project development director for the proposed Sizewell C power station. Picture: ContributedJim Crawford is EDF Energy’s project development director for the proposed Sizewell C power station. Picture: Contributed

Sustaining the progress and gains we have made in managing our operations, and becoming more efficient to ensure we remain resilient now and in future.

Shell UK has signed an agreement to bring a second ‘Walk to Work vessel’ into service to perform maintenance on unmanned platforms in the SNS. This way of working, which has been in place for three years, has dramatically reduced the number of helicopter flights used to transport employees and materials to platforms. We are also embracing digitisation and leveraging big data through proactive technical monitoring.

Jim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director and Bradwell B deputy chief executive

EDF and its long-standing partner CGN have plans to develop two new power stations: Sizewell C in Suffolk and Bradwell B in Essex.

Fraser Weir, North Sea director at Spirit Energy. Picture: Spirit EnergyFraser Weir, North Sea director at Spirit Energy. Picture: Spirit Energy

Progressing these in 2018 is not only an opportunity for us, but would create significant business, skills and job opportunities for the region – just as Hinkley Point C is doing for the South West. Businesses in the South West have already secured £465m in contracts and the station is worth over £4bn to the regional economy over its lifetime – we want to do the same for the East of England.

Our biggest challenge and opportunity is to collect all the valuable information and experience coming from our other new nuclear projects and use this to make Sizewell C as efficient as possible and maximise the opportunities for the communities in the East of England.

There is the potential to move to a more decentralised energy system as the industry develops the smart solutions to deliver flexibility.

Fraser Weir, North Sea director at Spirit Energy

Anne Gourlay, development manager at Bilfinger Salamis UK. Picture: Bilfinger Salamis UKAnne Gourlay, development manager at Bilfinger Salamis UK. Picture: Bilfinger Salamis UK

I am excited about the potential for the tight gas reserves still in place in the southern North Sea – these are the reserves which are the trickiest to access.

The region is the most mature on the UK Continental Shelf, but there’s still an estimated 3.8 trillion cubic feet of tight gas locked in existing fields and undeveloped discoveries. New technologies which can help us develop these fields will be really important.

From Spirit Energy’s perspective, this is a busy year in the southern North Sea, with a new well being drilled at our Chiswick field to extend its life even further, and working with our partner Neptune Energy to continue the development of the major Cygnus field.

For both the gas industry and the renewables sector, a huge opportunity is the potential for us to work together and use our shared expertise and experience for the benefit of the southern North Sea’s energy industry more broadly. We already share the basin, and should be open to sharing our expertise as well.

Haven Powers chief operating officer, Paul Sheffield. Picture: Drax GroupHaven Powers chief operating officer, Paul Sheffield. Picture: Drax Group

Anne Gourlay, development manager at Bilfinger Salamis UK

2018 is already shaping up to be a good year for the SNS – this is great for the local economy and local employment.

Through January and February our business has seen a real uptick in onshore and offshore activity and we have a busy summer ahead.

The SNS is fundamental to our business and we have increased our service range and capability in inspection, and electrical and mechanical trades. We work for most of the oil and gas majors – to deliver all of this we need people and are a significant local employer, investing heavily in training and competence. The SNS has a fantastic long-term outlook.

Given the depth of the oil and gas downturn, we have seen operators making significant cuts in expenditure and personnel. Everyone needs to be able to deliver safely and effectively on a more competitive basis. This has created an openness between operators and contractors in the supply chain to work together in new ways to reduce costs.

Paul Sheffield, chief operating officer at Haven Power

Sustainability and clean growth are no longer just a box-ticking exercise for businesses – they are now key considerations in their overall strategies.

As a result, in 2017 we have seen a significant increase in the amount of businesses choosing renewable options. This is a huge opportunity for us as more UK businesses make the simple switch to renewable power.

The biggest challenge we have set ourselves is to work more collaboratively with our customers – to be seen as a partner, not just a supplier. This goes beyond simply supplying energy, but also helping customers to be more energy efficient. As this not only saves them money, but also lowers their carbon footprint and can even boost their corporate social responsibility commitments.

Forward-thinking businesses have realised the benefits energy sourced from renewable sources gives them. So, we predict this year will be a big year for bringing more renewable energy onto the grid.

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