Energetica faces a challenge to attract new overseas investment into north east Scotland whilst avoiding robbing ‘Peter to pay Paul’.
Development manager, James Welsh, who was appointed last year to help boost the profile of the corridor, said the focus remains on attracting companies from outside the region, rather than offering incentives to local companies to move to new premises in the 30-mile development strip between Aberdeen and Peterhead.
“We have tried to concentrate on ‘additionality’ rather than displacement. There is always the feeling you’d draw people from older industrial states,” he explained.
“We haven’t offered major incentives to relocate into the corridor and chosen to very much focus on inward investment from overseas.”
He also revealed an as-yet unnamed Canadian energy supply chain company is set to locate its European office in the north east.
Energetica, the project created in to bring £750-million high-value investment to the north east coast, is still seen by its backers as a hub for globally important technology projects that will play a role in retaining the region’s relevance as an energy hotspot.
Welsh believes that despite having a “tiny” budget of less than £100,000, Energetica could play a significant role in attracting inward investment.
The CCS project will be a catalyst for greater investment and further projects in the region.
A planning application for the onshore elements of the CCS plant at Peterhead power station was approved by Aberdeenshire Council in June.
Shell and power company SSE are seeking up to £1billion of UK government funding to develop a commercial project that would see CO2 captured and stored offshore on Shell’s Goldeneye oilfield infrastructure.
“It is certainly a watershed moment to have the planning consent to take the project forward. A lot of the engineering and design work has been done and tenders are out,” said Welsh.
“The target is to take a package to the Shell board by end of the year. If they get approval, taking it to UK Government and see if they can win some of that prize money from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).”
“The trigger will be getting the Shell carbon capture scheme up and running. You need that anchor development at the power station.”
“We have to look at what’s going to happen to Aberdeen in the next 30 to 40 years and look at how to attract and retain a high value economic future,” said Welsh.
With the long-awaited Aberdeen bypass well underway, its northern leg will help open up the full potential of the Energetica corridor.
Hundreds of hectares of land have been allocated, but development has been constrained until the bypass opens in 2018, according to Welsh.
On the far north-east tip of the region, Peterhead Port Authority is looking at £47 million investment in the port facilities, said Welsh.
Welsh added: “A lot of companies are starting to think Peterhead might be the place to be. It’s remarkable how many bigger boats are using the port.”
Major employers such as Score Group and Asco are well established in the Peterhead area.
“Speaking to companies in Peterhead, they’re order books are still fine. It’s not quite what it was last year, but it’s not a disaster yet and we foresee new opportunities on the horizon.”
“Score are big up there. They have a huge workforce up there and an also a big training programme – taking local people and training them up for the future. They are looking at the longer term.”
Statoil plans to take the final investment decision on its ground-breaking Hywind floating windfarm next month.
The Norwegian energy giant is planning to build five floating turbines, each with six-megawatt capacity, off the Buchan coast, in an area where the water depth is around 100 metres.
Welsh said “Contracts have been recently been awarded to get some of the front end engineering and design done. It’s largely Norwegian based companies doing it. They are very much looking at how an array will work in deep water.”
Additionally, North Connect, the £2billion power connection between Aberdeenshire and Scandinavia, was this week given the backing of Aberdeenshire Council. and is set to create up to 200 jobs during construction.
The link – being proposed by a consortium of Vattenfall, Adger Energi, E-Co Energi and Lyse. – could create 200 new jobs in Buchan.
Future investment targets include Chinese, US and Norwegian business, many of whom will be attending Offshore Europe in Aberdeen next month.