Work together to maximise recovery, energy bosses told
Copyright: Archant 2016
The east coast has a once-in-a-generation chance to put itself “front and centre” of the offshore renewable energy boom, according to an industry leader.
And collaboration is key if the region’s struggling oil and gas companies are to prevent further job losses, keep skilled workers and be ready for a future recovery.
The message came as senior energy figures gathered at the Norfolk Showground for the SNS2016 conference, organised by the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR), amid the worst downturn for a generation in the oil and gas industry.
But the two-day event opened on a defiantly upbeat note, with ScottishPower Renewables confirming Great Yarmouth as the construction port for its £2.5bn offshore wind farm East Anglia One, with a £5m investment to improve to the port.
Offshore managing director Jonathan Cole said: “East Anglia will be at the front and centre of the offshore wind sector.
“We will make [Great Yarmouth port] perfectly suited for our project, but also well placed to be port of installation and construction for other projects in East Anglia.”
The 102-turbine windfarm is the first of four planned for the East, and is expected to bring more than 3,000 jobs to the region.
Smaller supply chain firms, which have been struggling to find business during the downturn, were told they would also benefit.
EEEGR chief executive Simon Gray said: “They key message is cooperation between operators is required to survive the downturn. We also need to call for urgent fiscal review and a review of the tax scheme.”
But he said the conference had been a success, with 800 people expected to attend over the two days, up from about 600 last year.
Renewable UK chairman Julian Brown said: “The powerful message we must spread is this is an industry worth being in and it creates real British jobs.”
And Bruce Valpy, chairman of renewable energy consultancy BVG Associates, said developers were keen to increase local support and use smaller supply chain businesses.
“Offshore wind needs the skills of the offshore oil and gas supply chain and oil and gas companies,” he said.
He said when developers submitted a bid for an offshore windfarm contract, they needed to show how they would work with local companies, and provide jobs.
But energy giants which committed to working with British companies and provide jobs in the UK would not be given an advantage, according to Andy Paine, of Vattenfall.
“We’re not going to pay a premium for UK content,” he said. “It’s about achieving the objective of getting the cost down and the contents up.”
And government support for the offshore renewables sector was key, added Paulina Hobbs, head of operations for the east coast at Siemens.
“I have 400 people working in operations and maintenance and all of them are British,” she said. “Siemens is committed to having the UK content and create jobs for UK people and make sure we make a long-term investment here.
“But a commitment from government is critical for us. We can’t make investment not knowing what is going to happen.”
Do you have a business story? Email email@example.com