What is the future for energy in Aberdeen?

IN 2013 I gave a presentation to the Qatar Olympic Games Bid committee in Doha.

My home city came up in the conversation and I said: “You might have heard of Aberdeen for two reasons.

“First, it is where Sir Alex Ferguson practised before going to Manchester United; second, it is Europe’s oil capital.”

His Excellency Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani responded by saying: “No, no, Aberdeen is not the oil capital of Europe, it is the oil capital of the world.”

So given the current issues that are being experienced in the sector as a result of a perfect storm of global market factors, is that reputation still appropriate and, if so, how do we capitalise on it?

Question: how can we ensure that we really do anchor a significant energy industry hub here well beyond any of our lifetimes?


In the short term, operators and the supply chain have been working together to introduce innovation, new thinking and best practice that has seen strong progress towards the target of almost halving the average cost of production.

Maintaining these behaviours as prices rally will be the key to maximising the recovery of the significant remaining oil and gas resources in the UK Continental Shelf and ensuring that the UK Government continues to listen to the industry in terms of providing the necessary tax conditions to incentivise long term investment and activity.

The establishment of an Oil and Gas Technology Centre is the centrepiece of the Opportunity North East initiative, and aims to coordinate and build on the pockets of great work already happening in the area to create the world-leading centre of excellence for supporting innovation in the energy sector.

Decommissioning is a natural consequence of operating in this sector so it should not be treated as a dirty word, synonymous with the early demise of UKCS operations.

Embracing this and developing leading edge know-how, systems and processes can establish Aberdeen as the acknowledged global expert in this space and provide opportunities in maturing basins around the world for many years to come.

The proposed Aberdeen Harbour expansion will be central to this and must be delivered.

And whether it be Iran, Ghana, Mexico or one of the many other emerging markets, our supply chain needs to be open-minded to exploring opportunities outside traditional comfort zones.

Gloomy headlines might suggest to outsiders that our city region is closed for business and that oil and gas is dead.

If we allow things to be talked down too much, how can we expect potential investors to view Aberdeen as a safe financial bet or to attract people to come here to study or build a career?

While not forgetting that times remain tricky, we have a job to do to remind ourselves and others of the upsides; the many good things about living, working and doing business in Aberdeen.

The foundations remain in place for a highly successful future.

If we collectively make good and bold decisions and take the necessary actions now we will anchor Aberdeen as a significant international oil and gas location for many years to come as part of a vibrant and diversified regional economy.