Extending field life will keep oil and gas the dominant driver of the southern North Sea but the region also has first-mover advantage in decommissioning and offshore wind, the EEEGR conference heard yesterday.
Blair Ainslie, whose firm Seajacks has a foot in both the offshore gas and wind camps, said: “If we get it right in the UK, the knowledge and experience gained (in offshore wind) will pay dividends in the future.
“We will have the skills and supply chain and if we get support from the banks and government we could do what Aberdeen did in the 1970s and make ourselves the centre of the energy industry. We are at the forefront of that marketplace here.”
“The bottle neck is finance and uncertainty.”
However, he said in the shorter term oil and gas would still dominate.
“Wind is the sexy opportunity, but if you look at the numbers you’ll see the oil and gas sector is still the biggest prize for us here,” he said.
“The next decade the bulk of activity will be oil and gas, but we know that will change.
“As far as I can see the biggest opportunities for us in oil and gas is in enhancing production, extending field life and decommissioning.”
He said estimations for decommissioning over the next five years were that there were 51 structures needing to be removed at a cost of about £3.5billion.
“We have first-mover advantage here,” he said. “And then there is wind.”
He told EEEGR’s Southern North Sea conference in Norwich that predictions for offshore wind capacity were 2GW near-term, 8GW by 2016 and 18GW by 2020.
“That’s 4,500 turbines,” he said. “If you think the largest offshore wind farm we have at the moment is Walney, with 200, that puts it into perspective.
Although there could be a lull 2012-2015, the German market – the largest behind the UK – could fill that gap, he said.