13 February 2014 | Michael Fallon
Staying competitive against emerging markets is an important element of the UK’s growth strategy. In recent years, the offshore infrastructure industry has seen a significant renaissance in investment in the North Sea, and Britain cannot afford to lose out on the opportunities available.
I am meeting with Norwegian and British companies that build and operate offshore oil and gas projects this week in Oslo, to identify concrete ways that British and Norwegian government and business can work together to sharpen our competitiveness on large offshore projects, which are currently being lost to the far East.
There is no other industrial sector that has created more economic growth for both the UK and Norway than oil and gas. Even as we diversify our energy market, improve efficiency, and introduce new low-carbon technologies, we will continue to need substantial amounts of oil and gas for many decades to come.
Fortunately, new opportunities for exploration and development are emerging right on our doorstep. There is strong interest in the new 28th Licensing Round in the UK, and Norway has enjoyed a similarly positive response to recent licensing in mature areas and frontier areas in the Arctic. Just as we have encountered promising new oil and gas investment opportunities in our region, we also face a common challenge to maintain industrial competitiveness in our offshore industries.
Global competition in the offshore fabrication sector has increased markedly. The UK and Norway have a shared objective to ensure that our governments are working closely with industry so that British and Norwegian companies maintain their edge in technology, quality and price. Together we can support a dynamic supply chain that sustains high-quality jobs in both the UK and Norway, and help to ensure maximum benefit to our wider economies from the prosperity offered by the new oil and gas opportunities in our region.
In the UK, we have already developed a set of concrete actions in our Oil and Gas Industrial Strategy published last year. These actions include skills development, improving access to finance, offshore safety and decommissioning. I look forward to exploring with my Norwegian colleagues how the UK strategy fits with that of Norway. Working together on this common challenge of offshore industrial competitiveness, with all of the knowledge and resources at our disposal, we want to find durable solutions. We cannot afford to go on losing contracts to the far East.
☛ Michael Fallon is UK minister of state for energy and business