December 7, 2021

Volume XI, Number 341

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December 07, 2021

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December 06, 2021

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Offshore Europe Showcases Internationalization of North Sea Oil and Gas Capabilities

Early September saw Aberdeen host the SPE Offshore Europe 2013 conference and exhibition. This biennial event has now been running for 40 years and the 2013 show was the biggest ever, attracting more than 1,500 exhibitors and over 63,000 visitors.

The theme of this year’s Offshore Europe was "The Next 50 Years." The title referred primarily to the North Sea—the message being that (contrary to popular opinion) there are decades’ worth of production still to come from that basin. But it also helped set the scene for a particularly forward-looking conference, at a time when there is a great deal going on in the industry.

Among the global issues, developments and trends that were discussed were:

  • the need to work harder and smarter to extract hydrocarbons;

  • the technological advances that will allow us to do so;

  • the increasing accessibility of deep and ultra-deep reserves in Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and West and East Africa;

  • likely changes in the ‘world order’ as reserves are exploited in new ways and supply/demand balances shift; and

  • the delinkage, after all these years, of gas prices from oil prices.

More "local" (i.e., North Sea-centric) talking points included:

  • the development of smaller fields (predicted to be a hallmark of the next phase);

  • the importance of a consistent, stable and ‘encouraging’ UK fiscal policy;

  • the need for a step change in the costs of North Sea operations; and

  • the North Sea oil nations’ continuing dominance in R&D—Norway in marine seismic and the UK in areas such as sub-sea automation—as the North Sea, given its shallow waters, continues to be the leading proving ground for new sub-sea technologies.

Closer to home still, there were various references to the continuing success of Aberdeen in attracting leading subsea-focused enterprises and other players in the supply chain (which was aptly referred to by one speaker as the ‘unsung hero of the industry’). 

The topic of health and safety is invariably a key agenda item at this and similar conferences around the world. There was a particular poignancy not just to the health and safety-related sessions but to this event as a whole, as a result of the tragic helicopter crash off Shetland less than two weeks before, in which four oil workers lost their lives. This year is also the 25th anniversary of Piper Alpha. Health and safety-focused sessions called for continuing and increased cooperation across the industry and improvements in the way the ‘safety culture’ is developed and ingrained.

All of the main producing countries in the world were represented. The hydrocarbon-rich countries of East Africa—Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda—attracted a great deal of attention and, each of them, under the auspices of the UK Trade and Investment initiative, delivered excellent presentations. It is clear that: legislative frameworks are in place; historical practical issues with the business environment are acknowledged and being addressed; and important lessons have been learnt from elsewhere. The enthusiasm was infectious.

Overall the mood at the conference was very positive and Aberdeen had the feel of a thriving oil capital, set to continue to play a key role in the industry, not just in its own back yard but throughout the oil and gas world.

Copyright © 2021, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume III, Number 309
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About this Author

The energy industry by its nature is complex, and so are its legal matters. Businesses that explore, develop, produce, store, market, transport and process energy resources are among the most capital intensive in the world. Energy industry transactions – from business combinations to raising capital – are high stakes and high impact.

Andrews Kurth has maintained a preeminent reputation in the global energy industry for more than a century, with a successful track record of depth and breadth that few other firms can match. We monitor trends in the industry and consider our in-depth,...

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