The north-east has been praised for its resolve in standing by the struggling North Sea industry and “reshaping” for the future.
The UK Government’s new energy minister Richard Harrington made the comments yesterday during his first visit since taking up the post in June.
The Conservative MP for Watford said Aberdeenshire should be proud of finding a way through the oil and gas downturn and not succumbing to economic pressures that wiped out other industries across the UK like shipbuilding and steel making.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Energy, who was appointed under Prime Minister Theresa May following the snap General Election, admitted that the industry and the wider north-east had been through tough times.
But he was buoyed by the determination of those intent on making the most of the remaining oil and gas reserves.
Mr Harrington said: “I think the way that this city has taken the battering that it has, with the jobs that it has lost and the way it is reforming itself, is very impressive.
“Not by quitting an industry like has happened so traditionally with steel in Sheffield and ship-building in Glasgow .
“But by saying the oil and gas industry is still here and we are going to redevelop it in a different way.
“There’s a positive way forward which everyone seems to bind to.”
The minister made the comments following the latest Maximising Economic Recovery (MER) Forum to discuss on-going strategic efforts in squeezing every last hydrocarbon out of the region.
The group was set up to bring together government, industry and the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) to deliver a programme of work for the UK continental shelf.
It was a day of revelations for Mr Harrington, the former DWP minister.
During an exclusive sit down with the Press and Journal, Mr Harrington admitted that prior to his appointment he “didn’t know” much about the industry.
He also expressed surprise that oil and gas companies do not keep their use of technology “top secret”.
And he said he expected the MER Forum to be “a load of industry people talking to a kind of trade body” but that he had been surprised with the levels of effort and collaboration.
HE said: “MER UK shows how regulator, suppliers and government can work so well together. It’s extraordinary.
“It’s a partnership. This is not just people in London or Edinburgh saying to people this is what we are going to do. They have got the industry very well engaged.
“There isn’t the political squabbling of this person should have done this or that.
He added: “What the industry called for more than anything today is stability in a tax regime. you can understand why as the worst thing is uncertainty and change
“It’s always been a skilled industry. But I see the future of it being more skilled.
“Drilling itself in the middle of the sea in some of the roughest climates in the world was difficult enough.
|But now with all the technologies that are growing for getting more out of the rigs, that’s the main target to squeeze more out of what there is, that’s going to involve more people of higher skills.
“Decommissioning itself, which has always really been regarded as an afterthought, there’;s every indication that this is becoming a major industry in its own way.
“If you look at those two areas, decommissioning and sweating the rest out of the assets, both can be something that this country can be world-class at.
“Aberdeen is the centre of this and that’s very encouraging.”
To read why Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse doesn’t think there’s a magic oil price that will trigger recovery click here.