Opening the Future Oil & Gas Aberdeen Conference

In line with my role as Shadow Energy Minster, it was my pleasure to open the Future of Oil and Gas Aberdeen Conference.  I spoke about the recent successes within the industry, stressing that we use these to springboard a continuation of improvements and innovation in the Gas and Oil industry,


“the real issue is about sustaining the competitiveness of the North Sea and keeping those   break-evens low, and I believe that digitalisation is going to play a key role in making that happen”.


You can read the entire speech below:


With the first conference held in London last year, I’m very glad to be welcoming you all to what I hope will become a regular fixture in our Aberdeen Calendar.

With the new Exhibition centre opening in 2019, Aberdeen is laying down a marker as a destination for conferences from all sectors and this can only benefit the Oil & Gas sector which has long been synonymous with conferences in Aberdeen.

It’s great to have been invited to open your conference today and I would like to thank Matthew Astill for asking me to speak.

At a time when the oil and gas sector in the North East is adapting to the crash in the oil price, it’s important to have conferences such as this which bring together disruptive innovation and emerging processes to help share the future of this industry.

Because the importance of this sector is still prevalent today and will continue to be for the decades to come.

Briefings I receive from the main operators all talk of production well into 2050 and beyond.  The real issue is about sustaining the competitiveness of the North Sea and keeping those break-evens low, and I believe that digitalisation is going to play a key role in making that happen.

It’s also a pleasure to be one of the co-convenors of the Oil and Gas cross-party group at Parliament, and last year Oil and Gas UK presented their economic report to us which highlighted that oil and gas still makes up 76% of the energy mix and will continue to make up 66% of the mix in 2035.

Whilst Oil and Gas UK’s Business Outlook Report had some unfortunate consequences of the crash noted, such as a lack of investment in the North East – I strongly believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

With at least 12 new developments worth around £5 billion of capital investment expected to be sanctioned in 2018, we have much to be excited about.

But we must ensure that we continue investment and to help aid recovery of the UK Continental Shelf and achieve the goals of Maximum Economic Recovery.

The biggest worry in the sector that I hear from businesses across the sector is the fear of reverting back to trends we saw just before the 2014 crash.

But I know that many also believe that the downturn has massively driven up efficiency within the sector – which has even led to the University of Aberdeen setting up a course to bridge the skills gap in data management, as more and more companies find that they are looking to capitalise on the efficiencies this can bring.

And with gateways such as the UK Efficiency Hub, it is great to see companies working together to promote efficient practice while maintaining safe operations.

Aberdeen is also very lucky to have our Oil and Gas Technology Centre and Oil and Gas Innovation Centre which both help bring about a thriving hub of information and I have no doubt that everyone here today understands the importance that they both bring.


I’ve had the pleasure to visit both centres, particularly enjoying trying out equipment from Marine Technical Limits – a company based in Kintore of my constituency Aberdeenshire West – who use virtual reality goggles to save operator costs.

And it’s not just the oil and gas sector that the goggles can benefit – as dementia organisations are now using the technology that you have produced to help benefit those with the condition.

So not only is the sector’s improved innovation and efficiency benefiting this industry, but it’s helping other sectors as well.

And I wouldn’t be able to open this conference today without giving a mention to the higher oil price we’ve seen in recent weeks – it’s encouraging to see but we must be mindful to continue driving improvements in productivity.

As with increasing oil prices, comes more inward investment and opportunity for all. And as I’ve mentioned already, this had led in a drive to do things differently, and better.

As Martin Gilbert recently said, the technology revolution will have radical effects on business and society.

This is no different for the oil and gas sector and I look forward to seeing ways our businesses can work together with the technology industry to improve productivity.

I look forward to continuing discussions with you all on what the UK and Scottish Governments can offer to you all to assist in your continued work but think we must note the recent successes which are driving this industry into a new era.

We have many great companies in the granite city and I’m sure events like today will produce even more success.

Thank you.