Sir Ian Wood said yesterday that besides maximising recovery of North Sea reserves and taking advantage of international oil and gas opportunities, the north-east must begin to stake its claim in the new energy industries.
The chairman of global energy services firm Wood Group said Aberdeen and the north-east – unlike in oil – had no real geographical advantage over other UK and European cities in new opportunities such as offshore wind and marine energy, or carbon capture and storage.
He said: “We should have a head start with the transferability of our oil and gas technology, but right now, Aberdeen is seen as preoccupied with oil and gas, a high-cost region without any spare capacity or interest in renewables. We are missing some of the early opportunities and this will prejudice our future participation.”
Sir Ian highlighted the role Aberdeen Business School could play in catalysing and facilitating important economic change in the region by communicating the challenges ahead and promoting possible solutions.
He said: “Aberdeen Business School, among others, could lead the wake-up call by analysing and highlighting the opportunities and threats. Edinburgh University and Strathclyde University are strongly staking their claim in carbon capture and storage and offshore wind respectively. Our two universities have some fringe activities in the new energies, but need to become much more involved.
“Our region is faced in the medium term with a significant negative economic and industrial adjustment. There are important new energy opportunities out there but we are not staking our claim.
“We successfully caught the oil and gas boat, but are in real danger of missing the new energies boat.”
Sir Ian, who is chancellor of the Robert Gordon University, was speaking at a lunch in Aberdeen to mark the 45th anniversary of RGU’s Aberdeen Business School. Professor Rita Marcella, dean of the school, said the continued engagement of local firms with the school could ensure its continued success.