East Anglia: Government welcomes �1.4bn investment in Cygnus gas field

THE Government today welcomed a series of investments by oil and gas companies which will create thousands of jobs and launch a new research centre.

Six separate announcements were made, including confirmation of plans for new oil and gas fields in the North Sea under a �1.4billion project which should eventually supply around 5% of the UK’s gas production.

The so-called Cygnus project, involving UK gas giant Centrica and French group GDF Suez, is expected to create around 4,000 jobs.

Oil firm BP said it will open an International Centre for Advanced Materials to support science and engineering, spread across Manchester and Cambridge universities and Imperial College, London, as well as the University of Illinois in the United States.

Around �60 million will be invested in the project, which will create a number of new academic posts.

Other announcements include investment by Italian chemical producer Versalis at its Grangemouth site in Scotland, and recruitment of up to 50 new graduate staff by Oxfordshire-based geosciences business Neftex.

Centrica, parent group of British Gas, said last month that a new tax break for developing shallow water gas fields would allow it to proceed with the Cygnus project, off the coast of East Anglia, which is believed to involve the largest gas discovery in the southern North Sea for 25 years.

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Engineering and project management company AMEC has been awarded a detailed design contract for the project, which should see the first gas from the field piped to the Bacton gas terminal in Norfolk in 2015.

The announcements were made ahead of business summit taking place today in London.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The oil and gas industry’s immense contribution to our skills base, industrial capacity and strength as an exporter are pivotal as we rebalance our economy.

“Today’s summit underlines the Government’s commitment to making the UK a great place for energy firms to do business, develop new technologies and recruit the best technicians and engineers.

“Collaboration between business and higher education institutions is boosting the status of the UK as a driver of innovation, and giving our firms a competitive edge. I’m pleased that BP has chosen to partner with a number of our world class universities to find new and more efficient ways of using and generating power.”

Bob Dudley, BP’s group chief executive, said: “Advanced materials and coatings will be vital in finding, producing and processing energy safely and efficiently in the years ahead.

“Energy producers will work at unprecedented depths, pressures and temperatures, as refineries, plants and pipeline operators seek ever better ways to combat corrosion.

“Manchester has world-leading capabilities and facilities in materials and it was chosen after a global search to act as the ‘hub’ of the centre, with ‘spokes’ in other university departments worldwide.”

The summit is one of 18 organised by UK Trade and Investment to promote British business during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.