Let’s get Brexit resolved ‘pretty darn pronto’, de Leeuw says

Paul de Leeuw
Paul de Leeuw

The oil and gas sector needs clarity on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union “pretty darn pronto”, an industry expert said today.

Paul de Leeuw, director of the Oil and Gas Institute at Robert Gordon University, said the sector had a strong track record of overcoming “complications”.

And he believes the oil and gas industry is less exposed to the potential fallout from Brexit than other sectors, like food and drink and automotive.

But Mr de Leeuw said he was concerned by the threat of “dislocation” of the provision of goods and services.

He said: “We are a 24/7 operation. What if you need something, but you cannot get something, whether that’s a person, goods, services, or a combination? Can we deal with domino effect of small things happening?”

He added: “We are a resilient industry that is good at dealing with complex issues, and we have our fair share. But as a sector, and as a country, things need to get clarified pretty darn pronto.”

He was speaking at the launch of EY’s annual review of the UK oilfield services (OFS) sector, which showed a third straight year of turnover decline.

Derek Leith, EY’s global oil and gas tax lead, said the results of the survey were “sobering”.

Mr Leith warned Brexit could have a “psychological impact” on the UK’s attractiveness in the global labour market.

Chris Ayres, chief operating officer at Opex Group, agreed “access to talent” could be hampered by Brexit.

The event at the Macdonald Norwood Hall Hotel was attended by 110 people.

In a live poll, industry behaviour and culture was identified as the main barrier to growth for the OFS sector, with 39% of the vote.