At an event hosted by Square One Law, former Secretary of State for Business, Lord Hutton of Furness told the North East of England’s supply chain to prepare for a reinvigorated energy sector by increasing investment in training and infrastructure, in order to take advantage of the opportunities likely to arise in the low carbon economy.
Speaking alongside a panel of experts including Neil Etherington, Group Development Director at Able UK, Alan Duncan, Senior Associate at BVG Associates and Gran Potter, Vice President of Blue Water Energy, Lord Hutton explained how supply chain companies need to focus on the medium to long term, which will allow them to thrive when the industry stabilises and begins to gather pace.
He said: “The UK, and in particular the North East of England, has the technical skills and capabilities to serve international markets effectively; however the financial crash and more recently the drop in global energy prices has meant many low carbon projects have been delayed.
“Nuclear has a huge role to play in any low carbon economy and as the energy industry recovers and more projects gain approval there will be a wide variety of opportunities that supply chain companies can benefit from.”
The event, which took place on 11 February at Wynyard Hall in partnership with Brewin Dolphin, KPMG, NOF Energy and Tees Valley Unlimited, saw important opportunities and challenges facing the energy industry discussed such as oil & gas, offshore renewables, nuclear and North Sea decommissioning.
A second panel, made up of speakers from Square One Law, Brewin Dolphin, KPMG and Tees Valley Unlimited took the opportunity to discuss overseas opportunities that currently exist, thanks to the Middle East, which has remained relatively unaffected by the fall in oil prices. They also focused on the role Government has to play in establishing an effective framework that will provide stability and certainty to those looking to invest, as well as the importance of blanket cost reductions.
James Bryce, Partner at Square One Law, said: “The debate highlighted important issues that must be addressed if the UK’s supply chain is to thrive in the coming years. Operators and contractors that have felt the effects of an increasingly challenging market have reigned in spending and implemented cost cutting measures, which have adversely affected some companies’ ability to secure a finite amount of work that is available.
“In the current environment, businesses must re-evaluate operating models to improve efficiencies and cost-base while increasing innovation and collaboration.
“The event had an underlying tone of positivity and was encouraging to hear from leading figures that agreed the UK’s diverse supply chain is in an excellent position to benefit from the low carbon economy that we are moving toward.”