What’s the true picture?

We live in challenging times.

I’m sure like everyone else you read on a regular basis headlines about yet another round of consultation over jobs at risk, or doom and gloom for the North Sea - or global - oil industry.

However, we need to be careful that we’re hearing the full story.

Back in September I attended the Offshore Europe exhibition and conference in Aberdeen.

Contrary to expectations, the mood was positive, and not because it was a day away from the office, but because the event was full of people from right across the supply chain all thinking about how we can do things differently.

Conversations with the supply chain were more positive than in previous years.

People really are looking at how they can work differently and more effectively to offer better solutions.

Amec Foster Wheeler participated in the Oil & Gas UK Share Fair in November, and again we had some really constructive conversations with the supply chain.

It’s not about just presenting our current list of contracts, it’s about shaping a conversation around the challenges for late life and decommissioning, for example, and asking:

  • How can you help us with that?
  • How can we work together to develop a different approach, adopt (or adapt) different technology?
  • How can we work together?

We can’t control the oil price, but we can control how we react to it.

If we sit back and wait for the upward curve then we’re condemning the outlook for the industry.

If we take a proactive approach, respond and adapt accordingly, then the future looks much brighter.

In fact the UKCS has led the way in many things in this global industry, not least in the export of skills and expertise.

I think with the right approach the North Sea can continue to grow in the area of innovation and skills and become renowned internationally as a hub of energy expertise.

I won’t pretend that we won’t see more job losses, however, we do need to retain the right skills and continue to attract people to the industry.

As our challenges increase so too should our ability to innovate and adapt. With every challenge come new possibilities, particularly for the smaller companies and entrepreneurs.

In the past a successful and hugely profitable industry wouldn’t have taken a chance on something new.

Today the ones taking the chance are those who resist change.