The Government is to kick-start a drive to increase the UK offshore industry’s exports by £2bn a year between now and 2005, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Stephen Byers announced this week.
The initiative is one of several recommended by the joint taskforce set up in November 1998 to counter the impact of low oil prices on Britain’s North Sea industry.
A key part of this strategy will be the establishment of a new clearing house for innovation and technology, which is designed to match small firms’ new ideas with industry requirements – something the sector recognises it has failed to do in the past.
The other significant measure will be the creation of a new organisation, Logic, to promote best practice for reducing costs throughout the industry’s supply chain – a task previously undertaken by the Crine Network.
Unlike Crine, Logic will not be dependent on executives donating their time for free, but will have a permanent staff, led by senior industry figures, and the resources to engage external consultants.
`It’s not just going to be two men and a dog,’ said David Odling, director of policy at industry body the UK Offshore Operators’ Association (UKOOA).
The Department of Trade and Industry will provide £2m to launch Logic and the organisation that will promote innovation and technology.
More funding will come from UKOOA and other industry bodies including the Offshore Contractors’ Association.
OCA chairman Syd Fudge described the initiatives as first class and said their value was in no way diminished by the improvement in oil prices this year.
`The real issue is competitiveness across the board,’ he said.
As well as boosting the export potential of the industry, the initiatives drawn up by the taskforce are intended to make an additional 5.6 billion barrels of oil in the North Sea economic to recover and to support 100,000 jobs.
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