Business Secretary Vince Cable and Energy Minister Charles Hendry will join forces with industry later this month in an effort to bring more North Sea offshore fabrication work on to UK soil, an energy-sector event heard yesterday.
Speaking at NOF Energy’s annual conference in Newcastle, Mr Hendry said a meeting would be held later this month to bring operators and contractors together to see what they and the UK Government could do to understand where there were issues and remove barriers to get more work into the country.
He added that this could be by helping operators to see where UK yard capability lay, but also by helping fabricators to work with newer, smaller and different companies operating in the North Sea.
There could also be measures by government to help and potentially a pot of cash that could provide grants to help with skills or other issues.
Mr Hendry said: “Operators need to understand that we are not neutral. They are being watched and it is starting to bring through a change of culture.
“Fabricators have said it is beginning to change and companies are starting to get on tender lists.
“We now want to bring both sides together and see what we can do to help in practical terms.”
He praised recent contracts issued to UK firms, including a compression module for ConocoPhillips’s Britannia field being worked on by Wilton Engineering Services. Mr Hendry said more work would come, despite the maturity of the sector, with potentially 16 new developments coming forward in five years. He said there had been good industry-Treasury dialogue ahead of the forthcoming UK Budget, but it was a case of waiting to see what would happen, adding: “We all recognise what an incredibly important part of the UK economy this industry is.”