Sir Ian Wood has called for the entire industry to get behind the fledgling Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) project he is heading.
The industry tycoon said the initiative should be more than just a “tech centre”, but a “whole move towards developing and building technology with international aspirations”.
Sir Ian also vowed not to significantly alter the Aberdeen landscape by constructing a hulking-great base to house the OGTC.
“We have no intention of building a big building,” Sir Ian said. “There are going to be a few of them here that aren’t going to be utilised.
“What we are going to do is put money into specialised plant and equipment and on intellectual capability.”
The organisation will interview for a new chief executive at the end of June, while its first solution centre will be up and running by the end of the year, said Sir Ian, chairman of the OGTC.
Sir Ian was speaking at law firm Burness Paull’s second annual oil and gas conference at the Chester Hotel in Aberdeen.
The 150 strong audience at the event also heard from Malcolm Webb, the former head of Oil and Gas UK, who admitted he still frets over north-east industry.
Mr Webb, who was replaced by Deirdre Michie last year, said: “In my retirement I sit and worry about what’s going on so I’m looking forward to hearing the views and analysis of today’s speakers to blow away the cobwebs and show us where we’re going.”
In his analysis, Sir Ian said he believed Aberdeen had woken up to the huge challenges it faces, namely, to avoid a major economic recession in 20 to 30 years.
He said this observation was backed up by the development of the north-east’s three flagship projects – the harbour expansion, the new exhibition centre and the OGTC.
He said: “We’re very awake now, we have a very enterprising city with good quality companies.
“But our thinking must not be clouded by the mindset of the oil price downturn. We will recover – there are too many economics around the world that need an oil price of $50, $60, $70. There will be a recovery, hopefully in the next 18 months. It won’t be $100 and not the same levels of activity we had earlier this decade. That recovery will last through the 1920s.”
But he warned that the industry must show that it has learnt the lessons of the current downturn.
“We must not step back into the bad habits of past recovery booms. We have made a lot of progress in bringing down costs and collaborating. We’re seeing real collaboration and are tackling unacceptable behaviours.
“We must be careful and look to the OGA, OGUK and other organisations to make sure we don’t back-slide.”