On 28 March 2013 the Government published its ‘UK Oil & Gas Business and Government Action’ plan on the likeliness of the Scottish Oil & Gas Strategy launched in May 2012 (see our Law Now : First Minister launches new oil and gas strategy for Scotland . The UK action plan focuses on the development of strategies that will enable “future decades of investment and production in the North Sea”.

The plan is supported by initiatives in the following areas:

  • Safety
  • Supply Chain
  • Finance
  • Technology
  • Skills
  • Awareness of the Industry
  • Engagement with other Industries
  • Decommissioning
  • Fiscal Regime.

While the publication aims to show the measures that should be adopted in order to accelerate the development of the UK oil and gas industry, in substance it focuses rather more on how the industry and government are already working together towards that goal.

The strategies already underway include:

  • Stability of the fiscal regime to encourage investments, which encompasses the brownfield allowance and the new mechanisms for certainty over tax relief for decommissioning announced in the Budget by the Treasury;
  • Comprehensive overview and mapping of the supply chain to ensure further development and competitiveness of the UK market;
  • Improving access to infrastructure and increase/enhance oil recovery through the PILOT partnership;
  • Raising awareness of the financial instruments available to the petroleum industry;
  • Establishment of a forum to promote greater awareness of opportunities between offshore wind and oil and gas industries.

The plan does however mention three innovative measures:

  • Creation of a cross-party group of Members of Parliament to support the work of the Oil and Gas Industry Council;
  • Introduction of a national programme to retrain ex-military personnel and people from other industries with relevant transferable skills to be redeployed in the oil and gas industry – a useful tool to address the looming skills shortage;
  • Establishment of a national centre of excellence for technology.

The strategy is an encouraging sign of the growing value placed on the industry by the Government – it remains to be seen what practical effect it has.