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Offshore Europe 2015: The industry’s £2billion of savings isn’t without regrets

Mike Tholen, Oil & Gas UK economics director
Mike Tholen, Oil & Gas UK economics director

The industry’s £2billion of savings isn’t without regrets, according to Oil & Gas UK’s Mike Tholen.

Speaking at Offshore Europe, the economic director acknowledged that savings were also reflection of mass overspend.

“I suspect that we should have some regrets that we didn’t evolve earlier, “ he said.

“When the oil price fell in 2008 and rebounded in 2009 I think some companies just blinked and just got on with doing their job without thinking about it where other companies were more thoughtful.

“In 2014 people were saying this is a rollercoaster and we can’t do this.

“The industry was going mad trying to keep up with the oil price and increase surplus and that eventually led to an oversupply and then you get into the cycle we’re in.”

Tholen spoke to Energy Voice after it was revealed oil and gas firms in the UK are on track to cut £2billion from their cost bases as the industry grapples with low global commodity prices, new research has revealed.

The cuts have resulted in the loss of 65,000 jobs in the UK continental shelf since the price of a barrel of oil peaked at $110 in 2014, according to Oil & Gas UK’s latest annual Economic Report.

However, Tholen stressed the industry had weathered similar storms and had the tools to survive.

“We couldn’t have had the conversations now in the industry 15 years ago because the supply chain was not as engaged as it is now,” he said.

“It’s a different sort of downturn because the companies have access to a much bigger market. The industry here is much deeper and richer than it was.”

He also revealed how the market slide in 86 almost saw him leave the sector.

“Except for the fact that I couldn’t sell my house I wouldn’t be in the industry now,” he said.

“I was also working in Aberdeen in the early 90s when we were trying to figure out how would survive beyond 2000 without oil.”

The international links Aberdeen companies have since forged have placed it in good stead, according to Tholen.

He said: “I hope there is enough in this and we have learned enough that we don’t put this downturn to waste.

“We know we need to be here for the long term.”

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