Almost around the world in 80 minutes…

OUR latest oil and gas survey showed that contractors’ confidence in the UKCS was at its lowest measure since the start of the survey, although confidence was relatively higher in non-UKCS markets.

It is therefore unsurprising that 2015 was a very busy year for our international trade team and 2016 is set to be even busier.

The number of business people attending our international learning and networking events, requests for introductions to on-the-ground support in new markets, and queries have increased.

However this increase is not only from members who are in the energy sector - which represents about a third of our membership - but from other sectors which make up the majority of our membership such as food and drink, skills, finance and business services.

I commented to my colleagues one afternoon that I had been around the world in less than an hour and a half.

My “tour” of the world started in the African continent.

A telephone call with another Chamber regarding a high-level inward oil and gas delegation from Mozambique which is keen to engage with companies who have world-class products, services and skills in this sector.

While companies in the North-east are globally recognised as having this expertise, the venue is in London.

Naturally, I lobbied for the delegation to visit Aberdeen, and for participation by the successful operators named after the 5th licensing rounds, i.e. ENI Mozambique, Exxonmobil, Sasol Petroleum and Delonex Energy, together with their partners.

In one-to-one meetings, members tell us that it is more beneficial for them to engage business to business rather than government to business.

Moving on from the African continent, I met a member who wanted to import commodities from India.

In this case, she already had an appointment with our recommended contact.

Having no experience importing goods, her training needs were also discussed and a referral was made.

My next conversation focused on how to make connections in the oil and gas sector in Western Australia.

A couple of emails and phone calls later, I introduced this member to a senior trade and investment advisor for the Government of Western Australia.

We have a memorandum of understanding with their EU Office and our contact was very happy to talk with our member and also to have a one-to-one meeting with him when attending Subsea Expo.

After Australasia, follow-ups on forthcoming lunch n learn events on Iran, Norway, Ghana and UAE covered another couple of continents.

While my whistlestop tour missed three continents, I can confirm that I have “visited” North and South America at other times.

As yet, our members have not asked for advice or support in Antarctica.

The demand for the goods and services the North-east of Scotland has to offer is there – you could be too.

There are many resources available to help you grow your business internationally and sometimes all that is needed is a signpost or an introduction.