Bobby Voss – R&D Director, Subsea Production Systems, GE Oil & Gas

What would be the advantages and disadvantages of the government appointing a Chief Engineering Adviser?

Since government already has a Chief Scientific Advisor it’s not clear why there is a need to distinguish between Engineering and Science – what are the drivers for this? One possible benefit might be the practical spending of Government funding on Engineering specific matters.

What are the highest priority areas for government spending to enhance the UK’s capability in your sector, and in technology in general?

In the Oil and Gas sector spending is needed in Software/Modelling (Geosciences, Flow Assurance and Systems’ Modelling, Drilling Technology, Enhanced Recovery, Brownfield Pumping and separation and Well Intervention technology).

In general terms, spending would be desirable in medical/healthcare sciences, energy efficiency and Materials Recycling Technologies, Smart Infrastructures (Traffic, Alternative Transport, Smart Grid, Recycling), Security Software (e-Biz, I/Net, Fraud Prevention) and Offshore renewable Power Generation.

Which recent government policies have been particularly effective for your sector, and which (if any) have been a hindrance?

There is a need for increased tax relief and incentives for offshore Oil and Gas production.

Which areas of technology research do you think are best coordinated by the European Union, and which are better left within the UK?

I am not sure that the EU is the best vehicle for technology research – there needs to be a greater focus on UK competiveness. That said, global initiatives such as Reduction in Emissions and Understanding Global Climate Change are possible exceptions.

What are the biggest opportunities for growth in your sector, in the short and medium terms?

There are lots of opportunity in subsea technology extensions, things like sea-bed infrastructure.

What is the best way to approach technological goals in the long term (ie, with results more than five years off)? Can and should government play a role here?

Government should supply funding, but with minimum intrusion.

What do you think of the current status of engineers in the UK? What can be done to enhance it?

There is a need to improve the profile and status of engineers through further education and we need to encourage young people to get interested in engineering from primary school age. Engineering disciplines should be included as part of the curriculum for 11-16 year olds to supplement other subjects such as English, Chemistry, Physics and Maths.