Some major progress has been made over the past few weeks to establish the oil and gas sector as the industry of choice for women. On Monday it was announced that the government’s new Secretary of State for Energy is Amber Rudd, who has been at the Department for Energy and Climate Change since June 2014. Ms Rudd’s appointment comes less than two weeks after Deirdre Michie started as the new chief executive of Oil & Gas UK.
SINCE the first hydrocarbons were discovered in the North Sea back in the late 1960s, the UK has been exporting its skills and expertise to oil rich countries and developing regions around the world.
A lot of focus has been put on the role of technology in the oil and gas industry recently, and how it is improving drilling, exploration, and even decommissioning in the North Sea and beyond. Something we perhaps fail to mention as frequently these days is the role of safety as a major influential factor in future design and innovation in the sector especially as health and safety is the main priority for businesses both on and offshore.
Tuesday (April 28th) marks International Workers’ Memorial Day, an observance which serves to remember and take action for workers who have who have died, been injured, or made unwell by their work. The day was originally established in Canada in 1984 and is now recognised by worker’ groups across the world, including the oil and gas industry. For our sector, safety has evolved from being an issue to take into consideration, to becoming the pre-requisite for everything we do, but that doesn’t mean the industry has become complacent .
The fall in oil price is affecting businesses, with many companies taking strong measures to mitigate losses and reassess spending habits. As well as the current oil price challenge, exploration costs are higher and many hydrocarbon reserves are proving difficult to explore.
As a result, collaborations across the sector are resulting in innovative technologies and methods to get the most out of UKCS.fields, but these partnerships are doing more than producing better products and services; they are also creating important opportunities for businesses to share best safety practice.
International Workers’ Memorial Day is just one day that stands out in the calendar, albeit an important one. After all, the safety of our employees and colleagues should be on our minds every day, no matter what challenges we face or solutions we deliver as an industry.
No secret has been made of the damage that a fast falling oil price has inflicted on our industry over the past few months. In the Budget announcement today, the Chancellor himself said the falling oil price poses a “pressing danger” to the North Sea oil and gas industry and that “bold and immediate” action was needed to support the sector.
The measures set out by George Osborne certainly meet what the industry has been hoping for but it might not be met with the gratitude the Government is expecting to hear. Bold and immediate action should have happened before mid-March.
The fact of the matter is, the tax relief announced this afternoon for the North Sea oil and gas industry was not just wanted, it was desperately needed. Earlier this week Sir Ian Wood estimated 80,000 jobs could be lost in 2016/17 if confidence in the industry is not recovered in 2015. What for many people across the UK today is little more than a news headline is for others a huge worry that has been at the forefront of the North Sea workforce’s mind for many months.
The good news for our industry is that we are being listened to by our government at the very highest level. Senior representatives from Oil & Gas UK called for a double digit reduction in the supplementary corporation tax charge and we have got it with a cut from 30% down to 20%. What’s even better is the reduction in that charge will be back dated to January, easing tensions that have quickly built up this year.
Today’s Budget announcement is definitely good news for the North Sea oil and gas industry. The news is that the Government have listened to the information the sector has presented them with and has responded appropriately with the support our industry needs. However, come tomorrow there will be different news and other headlines. How our industry goes forward with these new measures is more important than ever.
Cuts in the supplementary charge do not mean we can be flush with finances. During the challenging times of the past few months we have seen our industry realise how important working together is for the common goals which are bigger than our individual targets. The Government is working with us, because we as an industry are working together. Now more than ever we must strive to collaborate and invest time into our business partnerships.