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Brian Wilson


North Sea reflections

When the Sea Gem rig struck gas off Durham in September 1965 and the North Sea’s potential role as an energy source impinged upon public consciousness, Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, America was digging deeper into the Vietnam War and the Beatles were at number one with Help!


OTC 2015: Flying the flag at OTC…it’s essential

For many in the North Sea industry, OTC in Houston has become part of the annual ritual. Unlike many such events which come and go in fashion, this one remains the top destination for many of the industry’s players and politicians from a’ the airts. The Offshore Technology Conference has been going strong since 1969 which means it has seen a few extreme ups and downs in the price of oil and plenty gloomy prognostications about the future. But in a sense, the event’s own longevity points to the underlying truth that this is an industry which has long since learned to take such fluctuations in its stride, and perhaps even turn them to advantage. For some of the old Aberdeen lags who have packed their suitcases once more and headed for Texas over the past few days, OTC is a great social occasion as well as a business one – a chance to meet old friends and particularly renew contact with many in the international industry who have, at some stage in their careers, passed through the North Sea industry.


Opinion: Longannet closure….what about Iberdola’s broken promises?

Imagine an uninformed stranger arriving in Scotland and examining what passes for an energy policy. What conclusions would be reached about the self-contradictory, self-defeating chaos that has been achieved so far? On the one hand, we have a Scottish government which has made massive virtue out of a low-carbon energy policy, targeting a generation equivalent to 100% renewables. On the other, we have one of Europe’s most polluting power stations scheduled for near-imminent closure. Our passing stranger might reach one of two conclusions, or possibly both. First, the closure of Longannet is entirely consistent with the stated objectives of the current Holyrood administration.


Opinion: West of the Hebrides oil & gas industry pipe dream

By and large, the UKCS oil & gas story has been one of success. However, this has not been the case in the waters west of the Scottish mainland and the Hebrides. Rather, it has been one of disappointment and, unlike bustling Shetland, somehow oddly remote from Aberdeen. Scotland’s west coast has always had a slightly arms length relationship with the oil & industry – intimately involved at some levels but never the front line in terms of activity or economic impacts. It was not always expected to remain that way. I remember, almost 40 years ago, attending explanatory meetings in Stornoway and elsewhere at which oil industry executives talked confidently about the industry’s expansion to waters west of the Hebrides. It was not a case of “if?” but “when?” which explains why that expectation has never quite gone away even though it has rarely seemed close to being fulfilled.


Opinion: Is Scotland’s wave and tidal dream sinking?

A very recent issue of the trade paper, Renewable Energy News, carried an apocalyptic headline: “Wave and Tidal Staring Into the Abyss”. It is difficult to disagree, at least in the short term. The gloom was prompted by the demise of two companies. Edinburgh-based Pelamis – which described itself as “the most advanced wave energy company in the world” – went into administration. Then Siemens shut down Marine Current Turbines along with the rest of its ocean power division. Pelamis and MCT have long been seen as front-runners in their respective technologies. Considerable sums of public money have been ploughed into them. But failure to deliver evidence for potential commercial success has been their undoing.

Oil & Gas

Opinion:The cold, hard light of a grim day

Sir Ian Wood wrote an interesting article recently in which he discussed the window of opportunity for Aberdeen to take advantage of its oil capital status in order to make radical improvements to the city centre. To those of us who are occasional visitors to the city, it has long been an enigma that there is so much wealth in and around Aberdeen yet this is so inconsistently reflected in the face it shows to visitors, at least on first acquaintance.


Energy and the independence debate

Sir Ian Wood did not, I am sure, particularly want to get involved in the independence referendum debate. Eventually, he was driven to do so by the gross misrepresentation of a subject he knows better than almost anyone.


Finding a smart exports solution for Scotland

Scotland's record as an exporter is not as good as it should be or needs to be if we are to create economic growth and sustain employment. In recognition of this, the Scottish Government set its own target a couple of years back of doubling the number of companies engaged in exporting by 2020.