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Applied Sciences and Other Technologies Books. Smith Norman J. This book is a contribution to the history of a vital stage of UK technical and economic development, perhaps the most important since the Second World War. It shows, from an industrial viewpoint, how the British handled the exploitation of their most significant natural resource gain of the 20th century.
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Notwithstanding the nearly 30 years of government support through the Offshore Supplies Office, the UK has not reaped the full benefit of the North Sea discoveries; this book attempts to explain why. It will assist governments and industries faced with future instances of unforeseen, specialist and large-scale new demand to manage their reactions more effectively. It also throws light on how governments can pursue strategic industrial objectives while leaving market mechanisms to function with minimal interference, something some administrations - perhaps even the British - may wish to do now or in the future.
Gordon should know as he started his professional career as a North Sea diver and so has a practical grip on many of the issues and opportunities faced by the UK subsea capability today. In the early s, just after the oil price slump of late through , the long-term future of subsea and Aberdeen seemed uncertain.
In the event, it came as huge encouragement that big brands like Technip, Subsea 7 and Acergy decided to stay and invest in new facilities, systems, training and ships. A strong, cohesive pan-UK supply chain means that we can have a very robust North Sea and international capability.
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Recently, with Scottish Enterprise, Subsea UK carried out a supply chain mapping exercise to look at the strengths and weaknesses and identify where it might be possible to reinforce. One weakness is cost-competitiveness.
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Of course, governments elsewhere will be keen to emulate what has happened in the North Sea and seek to attract investment. This includes Brazil. They are working hard to pull in a lot of the knowledge they need.
Like his Subsea 7 hot-seat predecessors David Pridden and Alistair Birnie, Neil Gordon understands the need for UK universities to be properly engaged with the subsea brigade. There is still a need for North Sea operators and government to put their shoulders behind British subsea success so that success begets more success.
He agrees that the risk is that we will lose this spirit of enterprise and that others will capitalise on the failure of successive governments to get behind an industry that is clearly a winner and merits backing. And he seems to subscribe to the view that the current Government displays a truly strange attitude to the oil and gas industry, even though there have been visits to Aberdeen by high profile politicians, particularly David Cameron and Vince Cable.
A “future-proof” strategy
Former Offshore Supplies Office supremo, Norman Smith, says in his book The Sea of Lost Opportunity that the London view has always been short-term and that the supply chain is secondary to getting oil and gas out of the ground. That means not just production but nurturing the supply chain too.
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