Wednesday, 15 July 2021 09:13

Energy leaders call for more focus on long-term planning

Keynote speaker Ian Marchant, chairman of Wood Group

A new white paper published by executive search specialists, FWB Park Brown, says UK energy industry leaders “must take action now” in order to capitalise on long-term opportunities.

The paper is based on discussions held at the company’s annual Leadership Dinner in Aberdeen, which was attended by around 140 senior personnel from the sector, and has identified a collection of “mega trends” that are most likely to influence the future of the industry over the next generation.

Attendees listed the increasing influence from Asia, changes in energy demand, resource scarcity, unburnable carbon, digital technology and changing business models as key areas for consideration for decision makers.

There was also a consensus that businesses need to be prepared to adapt to a new operating environment, with the G7 nations aiming to reduce reliance on fossil fuels by 2050 and the IMF’s recent announcement that it will end fossil fuel subsidies. The attendees agreed that this was most likely to be first felt in exploration, followed by high cost production centres such as the North Sea.

However the tone of conversations was position, with many long-term opportunities in the UKCS discussed.

One attendee said: “There may be growth in areas such as carbon capture and storage as a result of changes elsewhere. We have clear notice that energy businesses as we know them today will likely have to adapt and change, whether it be in 40 or 80 years. However, staying ahead of the game will require positive action from those of us in the industry.”

Another said a clear balance would have to be struck regarding the impact of new technology: “Leaders must ask themselves if data is the same thing as wisdom? Where are the boundaries between the two? We need to be conscious that we don’t become too reliant on one at the expense of the other.”

Following the event Stuart Cochrane, director of FWB Park Brown, said: “We wanted to provide a timely opportunity for decision makers to seriously consider what the next generation of the industry should look like, and what they need to do now to make that a reality. Despite the low oil price and high cost base, there are still clear opportunities within the UK energy sector.

“The feeling on the night was that the industry here now has to regroup and leaders have to be at the forefront in embracing new thinking and adapting to the operating environments of the future.”

The full white paper of the event can be downloaded here.

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