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David Whitehouse’s speech at OEUK Economy and People report launch in Aberdeen

18 June 2024


David Whitehouse – Chief Executive of Offshore Energies UK – delivered a keynote address to over 200 attendees at the Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) Economy and People report launch event in Aberdeen on the 18th June 2024.  

David highlighted the need for greater collaboration and partnership between industry and governments to unleash the potential of our offshore energy industry to power the UK’s future. 

Good morning everyone, thank you all for being here this morning. My name is David Whitehouse, Chief Executive of Offshore Energies UK. 

Today we are delighted to be launching our Economy and People Report. 

I would like to give a special thank you to our sponsor, Deloitte, for supporting our breakfast briefing series this year and also our excellent guest panellists and speakers: 

This morning you will be hearing from:- 

  • Debapratim De – Senior Economist at Deloitte; 
  • Paul de Leeuw – Director, Energy Transition at Robert Gordon University; 
  • and Ross Dornan – Market Intelligence Manager at OEUK and principle author of the report. 

We will then head into a networking break which will then be followed by an excellent panel session chaired by Katy Heidenreich – Supply Chain and People Director at OEUK and the following panellists:- 

  • Terry Allan – Chief Executive Officer at Global E&C; 
  • Donna Sutherland – Manager, Infrastructure & New Energy at EnQuest; 
  • Sarah Bolson – Decommissioning Engineer at CNR, and OEUK’s Young Professional of the Year; 
  • and Emily Taylor – North Sea Transition Deal Manager at OEUK. 

We appreciate you all and your contributions to making these events possible. 

These are important times for the UK. These are important times for the sector. 

In 16-days time, the UK will have a general election. Parties have published their manifestos. Debates are ongoing. 

We live in uncertain times, with a cost-of-living crisis, increasing geopolitical tension with war in Ukraine and the Middle-East, and the impact of a changing climate being felt.  

The need for collaboration between governments, industry, and the public has never been greater. 

That is why our consistent response to all parties has been this – work with us. 

All parties have put economic growth at the heart of their strategy, and with supportive policy, our offshore energy industries can deliver exactly that.  

UK offshore energy companies could invest £200 billion in homegrown energy production this decade alone.  

That is investment in offshore wind, carbon storage, our hydrogen economy, and the oil and gas that the country needs. 

This sector offers high quality employment for over 200,000 people across the country from Shetland to Southampton.  

The very skilled people and supply chain companies needed to provide for our energy needs today whilst creating the low carbon energy future for the UK. 

Rishi Sunak has recognised the role of our sector in “boost our energy independence in an increasingly unstable world” and has proposed to legislate annual oil and gas licensing rounds. 

Keir Starmer has said “oil and gas production in the North Sea will be with us for decades to come, and our offshore workers will lead the world in the industries of the future.” 

These words of are important, but it’s the delivery that matters.  

I do believe that all political leaders recognise the importance of our sector. I do believe they want to make the most our world class skills and expertise.  

I choose to believe their words, but now we need supportive action. 

I am deeply concerned about a ban on new licences. 

All parties recognise the reality that we will use oil and gas for decades to come.  

The choice is do we meet our needs with our homegrown production, supporting our jobs, our energy security, creating value in our economy, growing our supply chain capability, or do we simply import from overseas.  

We must back our homegrown industry. 

Recently Rishi Sunak said that the world “is the most dangerous it has been since the end of the Cold War.”  

Keir Starmer launched his election campaign with a clear message “at the very foundation of any good government, is economic security, border security, national security.” 

Today, the UK is importing more energy than any time in 40 years.  

The solution to address this vulnerability is our homegrown offshore energy sector – yes accelerating renewable energy opportunities, but also supporting our important homegrown oil and gas production.  

In an uncertain world, increasing our reliance on imports is the wrong path.  

The choice is not one or the other. On this journey, we need both renewable electricity and our domestic oil and gas. 

The bulk of the £1.4 trillion pounds to achieve net zero in the UK must come from private companies.  

We need a predictable fiscal regime for all energy investment that allows a fair return and prioritises our UK supply chain.  

In the global race for energy investment, windfall taxes and the language around our energy companies drive away the private investment we need.  

To drive economic growth, and build our world class supply chain capacity, we need the UK to be an irresistible destination for energy investment. 

Our sector has continued to demonstrate its worth in more ways than one… 

It has powered British businesses… our communities… and supported our ways of living; 

It continues to be the development ground for thousands of highly skilled jobs; 

It has also contributed over £450 billion to the exchequer; 

and today our report evidences that this sector can continue to be a trusted and responsible partner to the UK by creating a secure, skilled and sustainable future. 

Today, 1 in every 160 jobs in the UK are supported by oil and gas activity – 1 in every 30 jobs here in Scotland. 

And by choosing to invest in a homegrown energy transition, employment opportunities could grow. 

Employment within the integrated offshore sector could grow by 50% this decade alone if we get this right.  

However, this is all dependent upon the UK being an attractive place to invest, to do business and to work. 

Our path to success builds upon our industrial heritage. Our path to success puts our people and skills at the centre of the energy transition.  

Manifesto’s issued this week carry important proposals. Delivery will depend on partnerships and unlocking investment.  

Our industry is in action and shares the ambition of all political parties to make the UK a leading low-carbon energy superpower that supports highly skilled jobs, boosts energy security and drives economic growth. 

The leaders of political parties have said they recognise the importance of the sector for our energy today and our energy future. The leaders of political parties have committed to work in partnership with industry and our people. 

Words are important but it’s the delivery that matters. 

So. To all policy makers we have a simple message – work with us.  

Support our homegrown industries. Support our people. 

Only by working together can we deliver a successful energy transition that delivers economic growth, energy security, grows highly skilled jobs, and delivers on our climate goals. 

Skilled. Sustainable. Secure. Choose a homegrown energy transition.  

I would now like to draw your attention to a short video clip which covers our report in more detail before welcoming our first speaker, Debo – Senior Economist at Deloitte. Thank you. 

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