It was a whirlwind as always, but it is safe to say we can class Offshore Europe 2017 as a success not only for those who exhibited and visited but for the city as a whole.
The familiar buzz rippled throughout Aberdeen and the most significant thing I picked up during a busy and informative schedule of visits and meetings was a great sense of optimism and opportunity.
Aberdeen City Council’s economic development team will be analysing the data around Offshore Europe in depth, in terms of benefit to the region, and that always provides an important picture.
More immediately, there was plenty of evidence at the event of positive energy and action that will provide a real springboard.
The week started with Shell’s pledge to invest up to $1billion per year into its North Sea operations and that type of commitment was echoed not only amongst operators but through the service companies too.
Although our regional ecomomic strategy majors on diversification, the Council has been clear that anchoring the oil and gas supply chain to Aberdeen will be vital to the region’s future. The activity at Offshore Europe supports that view.
Of course, we also noted figures released by Oil and Gas UK in relation to the job losses suffered in the industry – 60,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2016, significantly more than anticipated.
These stark statistics underline once again the massive challenges that have had to be faced head on. Although it is predicted the worst of the contraction in employment is behind us, no job loss is palatable and as a local authority it is important innovation and partnership working continues to be developed to help the energy sector reverse the trend.
To that end, Aberdeen City Council played its part in a number of significant updates and announcements this week. This included the release of fresh imagery of the new £333million Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre and the laying of the foundations for the associated energy centre – a topical development, showcasing innovation in sustainable energy.
Offshore Europe will return in 2019 to take its place in the new AECC and I am sure will go from strength to strength. In the meantime, my thanks go to everyone who helped make this year’s the event such a success.
Councillor Jenny Laing.