Brexit could cause ‘noise and inefficiencies’ offshore

Oil and Gas Technology Centre CEO Colette Cohen.
Picture by Jim Irvine  5-2-19
Oil and Gas Technology Centre CEO Colette Cohen. Picture by Jim Irvine 5-2-19

Brexit has the potential to cause “noise and inefficiencies” for offshore regulations, according the chief executive of the Oil and Gas Techonlogy Centre (OGTC).

Although the oil and gas industry is good at making the rules work, it is the period of uncertainty after Brexit that could cause problems, Colette Cohen said.

Ms Cohen, who has an extensive background as an engineer in the offshore industry, was speaking at the opening of Subsea Expo at the AECC yesterday.

“We do have a huge amount of little, annoying rules on how we send equipment on and offshore,” she said.

“The minute you go past that 12 mile barrier there are all sorts of rules that have taken us years to make daily business.

“So I do think there will be some things that cause us some noise, whether we have a hard Brexit or an uncertain one, on which rules apply.

“Making sure that we don’t get into some violation, making sure equipment is certified, a whole series of things like that which could cause us a lot of noise and inefficiencies.”

From a research and development perspective, the OGTC is unlikely to be heavily impacted as it is funded through the industry as well as UK and Scottish Governments and may be more of a “vehicle” for their R&D spend in the interim.

However, she said that a real concern lies in European funding for university research projects the OGTC is involved in, as well as the pool of EU and non-EU talent that could be affected by Brexit.

She added: “From the R&D side, the part we have heard concerns is through the universities.

“A lot of the research programmes we have ongoing through the universities are manned through EU and non-EU staff.

“Continuous funding, because there’s been a huge amount of EU funding for R&D programmes across the UK, is at risk, and obviously this amazing brainpower we have homogenised into the UK over the last 10-15 years is at risk.”

Also on the panel with her was Mike Beveridge, managing director of investment bank Simmons Energy.

Although he does not expect a huge long-term impact on the subsea sector through Brexit, he said continued uncertainty is not good for business.

He said: “I’m quite sure we’ll probably find Brexit as an issue in everyone’s due diligence list as we go through the next few months of mergers and acquisitions, and if we end up deferring Brexit, then that risk hangs over for another few months which is not a positive thing.

“My own view from the oil and gas subsea services industry, I don’t think Brexit is going to have a dramatic impact on the industry because we’re a UK and a global industry and I think there’s plenty to go after even if there are some short-term hiccups with the EU itself.”