The east of England energy sector needs to reinforce its global reputation for engineering excellence to ensure a bright future for the region when the North Sea runs out of oil and gas.

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That was the message from Ian Moulton, of Great Yarmouth-based energy company Perenco, who urged businesses to nurture their engineering talent to remain ahead of the game when completing for global contracts in the decades ahead.

It came as Mr Moulton said the Southern North Sea still had a strong future, despite falling productivity and gas extraction becoming more difficult. But Patrick Phelan, of Norwich-based Aquaterra Energy, said more needed to be done to encourage girls into the energy sector amid fears that the government and industry is not doing enough to meet the growing demand for engineers.

Their views were shared as part of the East of England Energy Group’s (EEEGR) Southern North Sea Conference held at the Norfolk Showground yesterday, where industry leaders gave an insight into the future of East Anglia’s energy sector.

“Our greatest resource is our people,” said Mr Moulton, operations improvement manager at Perenco. “I have worked across the globe and I can say that it has been immensely rewarding.

“Long after the oil and gas reserves have been exhausted the skills around Great Yarmouth and Aberdeen will continue to be in demand across the world.”

Meanwhile, Mr Phelan, managing director of Aquaterra Energy, said: “It has been said that we are not very good at recruiting female engineers, but in fact, we are the worst in Europe.

“But why would they go into engineering if we do not encourage them too. We need to get the message out there that we can generate opportunities for girls as well as boys.

“We need to targets students at the age of 14, 15 and 16 and get them think about subjects like physics – by the time they are 17 and 18 years old it could be too late.”

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