A British oil-industry leader has stressed the importance of the North Sea to the continued success of the country’s energy service companies in overseas markets.
Malcolm Webb, chief executive of industry organisation Oil and Gas UK, told the Press and Journal yesterday at the OTC oil show in Houston that it was good to see so many British firms represented.
He was also pleased that Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks had been to the show this week to meet British companies.
Mr Webb said: “The UK is a centre of excellence for the oil service business and also an international base.
“It’s hugely important that we continue to have a vigorous UK oil and gas industry, which can support the growth of the international business.
“If the UK oil and gas industry were to decline prematurely, it would put a questionmark against the future prosperity of our country’s oil service firms.
“That’s why the UK Government has to be careful to maintain the right business climate in Britain for investment in exploration and production of oil and gas.”
Mr Webb said it was estimated that Britain’s oil and gas supply chain did £17billion of business a year, with about £6billion of this overseas. He said that the international figure was growing by about 10% a year, a much faster rate than in the domestic market, adding: “This shows how hugely important foreign markets are to us.”
About 500,000 people are employed – either directly or indirectly – in the oil and gas industry in Britain. About 100,000 of the total are involved wholly in exports of oil and gas goods and services.
Mr Webb said energy service giant Wood Group and telecommunications specialist Nessco were good examples of Aberdeen businesses which had seized international opportunities.
He added: “These companies which have internationalised will be going strong for decades after the North Sea has finished producing oil and gas, though that is also decades away. We want to see our oil service firms rooted in the UK, not moving their HQs abroad. A strong North Sea industry will keep international service companies here, giving an annual boost of billions of pounds to the UK economy for decades to come.”