With everyone asking the question: “What are the big growth industries for the UK in the next few years?”, one sector which should have a strong mention is oil and gas.
The industry is already a world leader but it has much more potential - to deliver high quality UK jobs and export opportunities. The GE announcement on Monday demonstrates the UK oil and gas sector’s current growth and dynamism.
One historic factor is the tempestuous waters of the North Sea. The age of "easy oil" is over - with increased global demand, oil and gas is being extracted from ever more challenging and deep water locations. The UK industry cut its teeth in the North Sea - a relatively hostile environment - and this is now paying dividends. We are now designing and manufacturing technological solutions that are being used in tough exploration situations around the world. For GE, the UK has become a centre of excellence, particularly in subsea technologies for international markets.
The oil and gas industry in the UK offers a number of opportunities for businesses such as GE, investing in the sector and the UK economy. Firstly it offers high quality skills and jobs, in advanced manufacturing, engineering and services. Secondly, as the Bristol announcement demonstrates, these jobs are increasingly across the UK. We have 1,000 people in Aberdeen but we also have UK oil and gas sites in diverse locations such as Nailsea in Somerset, Leicester, Newcastle and, now, Bristol.
Finally this is a sector with massive export potential. UK oil and gas businesses are already selling all over the world. They are already some of the UK’s most international companies. Our UK oil and gas businesses are working with customers in Brazil, the Middle East, the Caspian, China, South America and many other locations. GE is a big UK exporter. We estimate around 80pc of the products and services that our UK businesses produce are sold overseas.
If the UK is to create growth it needs to create high quality technologies and services it can sell to the rest of the world. That is what the oil and gas sector can deliver we should champion it.
Mark Elborne is chief executive of GE UK