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Spirit of collaboration vital for homegrown energy production

PUBLISHED: 09:46 02 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:46 02 March 2017

SNS Energy Conference 2017 at Norfolk Showground. Tom McGarry from EDF Energy.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

SNS Energy Conference 2017 at Norfolk Showground. Tom McGarry from EDF Energy. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

A challenge has been issued to East Anglia’s energy sectors to collaborate for mutual benefit as the industry aims to use the remaining resources in the Southern North Sea.

Business and industry leaders met at the East of England Energy Group’s (EEEGR) SNS 2017 conference at the Norfolk Showground where the rejuvenation of the Southern North Sea (SNS) was on the agenda. A spectrum of energy technologies was represented at the event, including members of the oil and gas, nuclear, wind and solar sectors.

There was a spirit of teamwork with sector leaders calling for a balanced plan for energy production with sharing of skills, infrastructure and knowledge to reduce costs.

Carla Riddell, SNS asset manager for gas giant Centrica, said using existing infrastructure and skills as well as collaboration with renewables would be vital to exploit remaining hard-to-reach gas reserves off the East Anglian coast. She said: “One of the key things is the many users of the basin and the changing requirements. What is happening now, and has to in the future, is sharing the basin and sharing the space.”

Despite the rallying cry the backdrop to 2017 is a challenging one with a downturn in oil and gas prices not abating.

It is estimated 120,000 jobs in the energy sector were lost across the UK in 2016 but Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK said there were positive foundations to build on.

She said: “There is some cautious optimism that things are stabilising and that we are in a more competitive position than we have been for years.

“We have improved costs and we have made our operations more efficient. Every cost of extracting a barrel of oil or gas has fallen by 45% since 2014.”

In light of the Brexit vote a focus on home-grown energy was called for with the UK currently importing around half of its power requirements. Proposals for further reactors at Sizewell and Bradwell nuclear energy could be a big part of that picture. Sizewell operator EDF Energy’s head of external affairs Tom McGarry said: “Over the 10-year build time Sizewell will employ 5,600 workers and once it is built it will employ 900 people for a 60-year life span.

“It will provide work for two generations.”

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