The chair of Ithaca Energy has talked up the economic benefits of backing the Cambo and Rosebank projects for local economies, including a potential high street resurgence.
Speaking at Offshore Europe’s opening plenary session, Gilad Myerson looked back at the difference in Aberdeen since the last in-person showcase, in 2019, including the loss of a prominent city centre staple.
He argued that development of new energies like offshore wind, along with sanctioning projects like Rosebank and Cambo, could help bring a revival to Aberdeen high street.
“John Lewis isn’t in town anymore,” said the Ithaca boss. “I think that is a very good example of what is happening to the town of Aberdeen and to our industry.
“We can talk about very major topics which are influencing the country but at the end of the day, the guy that lands on the heliport coming back from three weeks offshore and wants to buy his mom a birthday present for Mother’s Day, or the woman at home on maternity leave wants to get a babygrow for the student that wants to go get a job over the weekend, they can’t go to John Lewis anymore.
“John Lewis packed its bags and closed shop. And I think when we think about the future of this industry, when we create and we sanction projects, when Rosebank, Cambo and other fields getting developed, when wind continues to accelerate…
“Ultimately there’ll be more jobs. The yards will fill up, the ships will be a lot more busy. The taxi cabs will be a lot more busy. There will be more kindergarten teachers needed…and John Lewis will come back into town.”
The Ithaca boss drew a laugh from the P&J Live crowd after the tongue-in-cheek comment about John Lewis, and comes while the industry awaits green lights for Rosebank, projected to create hundreds of Scottish jobs, and later Cambo, in the West of Shetland.
Ithaca on John Lewis – Covid-hit
It comes amid news today that millionaire property developer EP Properties, led by Zakir Issa, has become the proud new owners of the landmark John Lewis store in Aberdeen.
However, Aberdeen Lord Provost David Cameron was quick to correct him, noting that the department store shut up shop off the back of Covid-19.
He told Energy Voice: “I thought it was an excellent session, I thought the speakers were very good, the panel was good. The comment about John Lewis at the end… that was something for me to rise to.
“Every city is in the same situation; Covid meant people weren’t going shopping. People still have to shop. Therefore, a lot more online shopping occurred and there’s still a legacy of that, and it might never go away – on the other hand, maybe it will. And with Bob Keillers’ One Union Street, I’m hoping that’s the way we’re going to go.
“Union Street will become vibrant again, the centre of the city is vibrant enough but not in the same way as it was before. I would love to see more local businesses doing well.”
‘Confident’ of government backing
Ithaca Energy holds stakes in both Cambo, which it operates, and Rosebank in the West of Shetland.
Both have become climate battlegrounds in the UK, being among the largest untapped oil resources in the country’s waters.
But Mr Myerson said he is “confident” that the government will support both projects.
“We’re in the midst of preparing for the next elections and all sorts of statements (are) being made, but ultimately whoever gets elected will take a big step back and say we need energy in our country and what is the best way to secure that energy? Therefore they’ll conclude that we need to sanction large projects.”
Mr Myerson went on to add: “Whatever your priorities are, if you’re looking for energy security, cost, lower emissions, more jobs, the ultimate answer is do it on your own back yard, instead of going abroad and buying it from abroad.
“If you look at Rosebank and Cambo as an example, they have lower emissions, they have a lower cost per barrel, they create a huge amount of jobs and they’re providing UK energy security.
“We believe that any government that comes through will want to sanction these projects, as well as additional projects that come along.
“So overall, I’m very confident the UK Government will support sanctioning large-scale projects in the UK. “