Keith Findlay, 27th September 2010
North-east expertise in the global oil and gas industry supply chain can help to unlock a prosperous low-carbon future for Scotland, an energy expert will tell delegates at a conference in Edinburgh this week.
But Euan McVicar, a partner and head of energy projects at Scottish law firm McGrigors, will also warn delegates that more needs to be done to attract North Sea oil and gas service firms to look closer at renewables.
Mr McVicar is one of the speakers lined up for the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference, which starts tomorrow and continues on Wednesday.
He will lead a session looking at the significance of the supply chain in large offshore projects.
Mr McVicar said: “It is about mobilising the supply chain effectively for low-carbon offshore initiatives – not just wind but also wave and tidal as well as carbon capture and storage.
“It’s a real chicken and egg situation. How can the supply chain be marshalled to allow projects to be delivered and how can offshore projects create the demand to allow the supply chain to flourish? Both need each other to develop further.”
Stressing the need to get priorities right, he said: “There is a lot of focus on getting a turbine manufacturer to locate in Scotland but many people feel that’s the wrong place to start.
“We can add value and create more jobs further down the supply chain and if we give support to these areas, we will in the end attract a turbine manufacturer.”
Mr McVicar will highlight the expertise available to deliver products and services ranging from jackets for offshore wind turbines to vessel hire and manufacture, as well as the know-how to turn prototype wind and tidal devices into commercial scale equipment.
The North Sea oil and gas industry can play a major role, he said, adding: “There are so many opportunities for transferrable skills from the oil industry to renewables.
“We need to do all we can to attract North Sea oil service players to look at renewables and low-carbon opportunities.
“They are telling us they want to be involved but they need that pipeline of work to start coming through. That needs more openness and more collaboration from developers.”
Mr McVicar said oil and gas service firms also needed attractive and long-term investment opportunities to bring them into the “renewables space”.
He added: “We built a world-leading oil services industry from Aberdeen and exported high-value parts of it around the world.
“There is no reason why Scotland cannot become a similar centre for expertise in renewables services and have a lasting industry here.
“Developing these skills within Scotland and exporting them around the world – that’s the real renewables opportunity for Scotland plc.”
Other speakers at the conference, which is supported by the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, include First Minster Alex Salmond, UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry, Lloyds Banking Group managing director Lady Susan Rice, Royal Bank of Scotland Group chief economist Andrew McLaughlin and ScottishPower and Scottish Southern Energy chief executives Nick Horler and Ian Marchant.
Meanwhile, McGrigors has announced the appointment Kirk Murdoch as senior partner across its operations in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.