The postponement of Offshore Europe has been described as a “hammer blow” to businesses across the north-east.
The oil and gas showcase, which is the largest of its kind in Europe, was due to take place between February 1-4 at the P&J Live in Aberdeen.
However, organisers SPE and Reed Exhibitions (RX), have postponed the event due to rising Omicron cases across the UK.
The February event had already been the second time organisers planned to run the exhibition in person, after Covid forced organisers to hold a virtual conference in September 2021 instead.
In previous years, Offshore Europe has attracted tens of thousands of people to the Granite City, bringing millions of pounds to the local economy.
Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce policy director Ryan Crighton said: “This event draws thousands to the north-east and means so much to the local economy, therefore its cancellation is a hammer blow to businesses.
“The last four weeks have been brutal for companies, particularly in events and hospitality, and the delay to this conference will add further financial pressure to these sectors.
“For most bars, restaurants, hotels and taxi drivers, Offshore Europe is second only to Christmas in terms of the customers and revenue it brings. They’ve now lost both, with no meaningful support to plug the losses.
“The government is now acknowledging that we need to find a way to live with Covid-19, so they need to make clear when the restrictions currently in place will be lifted, otherwise January will be bleak for businesses and jobs.”
Hotels miss out on much needed business
The event also normally brings a welcome boost for the hotel industry with increased occupancy bookings and restaurant reservations.
Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association vice chairman Stephen Gow said: “This is disappointing, but not wholly unexpected news.
“Offshore Europe would have brought much needed business to the city and shire hotels at a traditionally quiet period for accommodation bookings.
“It’s not just hotel rooms which fill when events like Offshore Europe are in town. Many companies book private dining and restaurant reservations are at a premium.
“There remains continued uncertainty and a lack of confidence in corporate travellers which is a result of mixed messages, ever changing regulations and Scotland not always being aligned with the rest of the UK.”
Organisers have said a smaller, themed event may be staged later in 2022 if there is sufficient demand from the industry.
Jonathan Heastie, portfolio director for energy at RX, said: “The health and safety of our exhibitors, attendees and staff is our priority.
“We were excited for the return of SPE Offshore Europe to Aberdeen in February 2022, but it is clear that given the current situation it would not be in the best interests of our community to go ahead.
“The decision is made with a heavy heart and I am thankful for the wonderful support from exhibitors and all those who had been working so hard to make the show a success.”
The event will be rescheduled for September 5-8 2023.
P&J Live managing director Nick Waight, said: “It’s unfortunate that the event can’t go ahead as planned.
“But we respect and support the decision taken by SPE Offshore Europe to postpone the in-person exhibition this year following an increase of the Omicron variant, and the fact that it might prove challenging for attendees to travel from international locations.
“We look forward to fulfilling an exceptional event in September 2023.”
Meanwhile organisers of Subsea Expo, Global Underwater Hub (GUH) – formerly Subsea UK- have today confirmed it is their intention to continue with the event next month.
Billed as the world’s largest subsea exhibition and conference it is due to be held in the P&J Live in Aberdeen from 22-24 February.
GUH chief executive Neil Gordon said: “Having postponed the event twice and given the interest in and appetite for Subsea Expo, it is our intention to proceed with the event unless guidance or restrictions, nearer the dates, force us to reschedule.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and will keep everyone fully apprised. Any decision taken will be based on our ability to run a successful event that is safe for all our exhibitors, speakers, sponsors and delegates at the time.”
The free Subsea Expo event would typically see more than 6,500 delegates attend over its three-day run, alongside around 200 exhibiting companies.