New Anglia LEP oil and gas taskforce holds first meeting

Mark Goodall (left), of New Anglia LEP, answers a question during the EEEGR summer conference at Nor

Mark Goodall (left), of New Anglia LEP, answers a question during the EEEGR summer conference at Norwich City Football Club. Picture Keiron Tovell - Credit: Archant

A taskforce set up by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Parnership to address challenges facing the oil and gas industry and its wider supply chain in Suffolk and Norfolk held its first meeting today.

It was chaired by New Anglia LEP board member Mark Goodall and attended by Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, together with a mix of other public and private sector representatives.

The meeting received a presentation from energy experts at Nautilus Associates on market research commissioned by the taskforce.

Initial findings show that the fall in the global oil price has exacerbated existing problems in the industry, but that businesses remained optimistic about the prospects in oil and gas, as well as decommissioning and offshore wind.

Nautilus will now speak directly and confidentially with businesses as part of its ongoing research. This will be fed back to the taskforce and New Anglia’s Growth Hub advisors, who will be ready if needed to offer free support and advice to companies or employees affected by recent job losses.

The meeting comes after leaders from the region’s energy sector gathered yesterday for the East of England Energy Group’s summer conference to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

Mr Goodall said: “We want to have a clearer idea of the problems facing companies in this sector and our job is to make sure we understand what those problems are and how they can receive the best support. There is much more work to be done, but I think we now have a way forward for achieving this.”

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Brandon Lewis MP said: “The work of the taskforce is to ensure this important element of our energy industry has a sustainable future. If we can help identify companies who might be struggling, be it with cash flow or the supply chain, then we have a chance to help them before those problems get out of control.

“We also need to ensure that Great Yarmouth continues to take advantage of the opportunities available across the whole energy sector, building on our existing assets of decommissioning and offshore wind.”

Peter Aldous MP added: “We already have support from Government for our plans and energy minister Andrea Leadsom has asked that I update her on the outcome of the meeting.

“It is promising that so many different partners have come together on this work. It is through collaboration that we can really tackle the issues and hopefully support and help those companies that are currently feeling under pressure.”

The taskforce plans to hold a second meeting in early September.