ABERDEEN has been selected as the headquarters for offshore wind, wave and tidal power activities by one of the biggest North Sea oil and gas service companies.
Technip announced in Paris that it is to locate its North Sea offshore renewables head office in the city following talks with First Minister Alex Salmond.
He said other major firms could follow suit – turning Aberdeen into Europe’s renewables capital. It is its offshore oil capital.
The announcement, which was delayed until the end of business in the Paris Bourse, the leading French stock exchange, involves just 20 immediate jobs, but its potential was claimed to be “huge”.
Technip has 900 personnel in Aberdeen and 1,000 offshore. Chairman and chief executive Thierry Pilenko said it is committed to implementing expertise from its core business in the service of renewable energies.
He said: “In this context, the group’s operating centre in Aberdeen will be able to capitalise on its expertise in offshore operations, fleet management and project execution to tackle the challenges of the renewable energy industry and succeed in its new assignment.”
Morag McCorkindale, chief operating officer at Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, put the potential offshore wind business at £100billion over 10 years. She said: “This is a very exciting and encouraging announcement. It is a clear recognition of the extensive energy expertise to be found in Aberdeen city and shire, and the unique role we can play in creating an industrial-scale offshore renewables industry.”
Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bob Collier said: “We must continue to look for opportunities to diversify our economy in order to provide a secure economic future for the region. Developing a global renewables industry in the region is a natural extension of current strengths and an achievable goal.”
Subsea UK chief executive Alistair Birnie said the announcement “is the clearest indication so far that there is international recognition of the vital part the UK has to play in all forms of energy”.
Aberdeen North SNP MSP Brian Adam said he was “delighted” because “this is the way we have to go and this is an auspicious start which I hope other major energy companies will follow”.
Aberdeen South Labour MP Anne Begg said: “This is excellent news from a big and growing company.”
West Aberdeenshire Liberal Democrat MP Sir Robert Smith said the news “confirms all we have been saying about the excellent skill base built up which has a lot to offer a thriving marine renewables industry”.
Mr Salmond had a private meeting with Mr Pilenko before taking part in round-table talks with counterparts from Alstom, Areva, Converteam, EDF, GDF, Nexans, Total and Veolia. The first minister said: “It was a difficult choice for the company. It had a range of possibilities in other European countries but decided on Aberdeen because of its experience with oil and gas – it believes Aberdeen is the right place to develop its new venture in renewables.”
He said it was “hugely significant”, establishing Aberdeen “in the forefront of green energy in the same way it has been the leading player in oil and gas”. Mr Salmond forecast “thousands of jobs” in the next few years as a result of expansion in the renewable energy sector.