Standing on the deck of an oil platform in the North Sea, Andrew Marr glared into the camera lens.
“Without oil the great squeeze and shake out of the economy might very well have broken the back of the government,” he asserted. “So what was achieved by all the roustabouts, engineers, divers, pilots and the financiers was epic and central.”
"And yet, barely a word about it appears in Margaret Thatcher's memoirs or those of most other ministers. It's as if an attempt was made to airbrush this industry out of Britain's national story - which would be shameful." Andrew Marr speaking of the Thatcher era in his History of Modern Britain on BBC TV
It does seem extraordinary how North Sea oil and gas still seems to be constantly downplayed. Yet, as an industry it provides 75% of the UK’s prime energy needs
. Far from being a declining industry, the forecast is that this will rise to 80% by 2020.
It's almost as though politicians want to hide our involvement with fossil fuels. Yet our global position in this worldwide industry is something in which we should take great pride.
The UK is actually a bigger oil producer than Nigeria, Indonesia or even Kuwait
and it is estimated that more than 40% of the total oil reserves n the North Sea still remain to be produced.
Aberdeen City and Shire
If these were not reasons enough put the oil and gas industry pretty far up our economic priorities, the industry supports more than half a million quality jobs across the UK. It also contributes £35 billion per annum to the UK balance of trade.
is a global technology centre for the oil and gas industry
, second only to Houston. It is said there are 300 international companies based in this area. Their executives treat commuting to their overseas offices in the USA, the Middle East, Africa, Asia or Australia as so commonplace that it is no more notable than our drive to the office.
More than anything, what this industry currently needs is an increase in the oil price. Last year, with oil at over $150 a barrel, the oil industry was investing in the future. Now with prices bumping along below $40 a barrel against the background of a recession, the case for investment is weak.
But we only have one shot at extending the life of the North Sea fields and securing the UK energy supply for the future.
We need to start talking up our oil and gas industry
, presenting its reality as a major producer and a global leader in technology developed on the back of a vibrant home market.
We only have a very short period in which to secure the future and “anchor” the industry in this country. © Ken McEwen Public Relations, 2009. www.kenmcewen.com
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