Subsea expertise in the north-east has the potential to help the UK’s ailing economy, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said on his first visit to Aberdeen yesterday
Speaking after meeting officials and members of Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) in the Granite City, Mr Davey admitted he had not appreciated the scale of the UK subsea sector and said it had been “hiding its light under the sea”.
Mr Davey, who has been in post since February, added: “It is an amazing story. I’ve been aware of it but didn’t realise quite the detail I’ve heard today.
“It is a very very important high-value sector for the UK economy because it is a knowledge-based sector. It had £6billion of sales last year, slightly under a third of the global market of about £20billion, and they feel there is growth potential.”
Highlighting hopes for a doubling in size over the next five years, Mr Davey said: “When you have a challenging economy, to have a sector that can do that is valuable and it is not just working in oil and gas, it has strong links in offshore renewables.
“There are also links to the supply chain to manufacturers in other parts of the UK.
“They (OGUK officials and members) were talking about a sector employing 50,000 people. It has been hiding its light under the sea where we can’t see it.”
He described Aberdeen as a global hub of subsea expertise, with major firms including Technip, Subsea 7 and Saipem having operations in or near the city.
It is estimated that there are nearly 300 subsea companies in the north-east, including about 20 at Westhill employing some 6,000 people between them.