Waveney: MP Peter Aldous calls for ‘level playing field’ for UK energy supply chain firms

An offshore module built by SLP in Lowestoft for use in the North Sea

An offshore module built by SLP in Lowestoft for use in the North Sea - Credit: Archant © 2010

MORE must be done to help UK energy supply chain firms win contracts at home and abroad or yards will disappear, the Government has been warned.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said other countries were showing “blatant protectionism” with their companies awarding contracts to their local firms and that too many large contracts on the UK continental shelf were going to foreign firms.

In an adjournment debate in the House of Commons he told energy minister John Hayes that Lowestoft-based Sembmarine SLP had told him that when it competes for projects in Norwegian, Dutch, German and French waters it had “practically no chance of winning owing to blatant protectionism” and Great Yarmouth-based Seajacks had pointed out that the French Government had explicitly stated that they intend to award licences for offshore wind sites to bidders favouring the French supply chain.

Mr Aldous said: “We need to strive to maximise the British content of UK energy infrastructure projects. At present, there are concerns that we are not meeting this challenge.”

He said: “British companies are not looking for favouritism or trade barriers; they are seeking a level playing field.”

He called for the UK to have a “local content policy” when granting contracts, with licences granted on the UK continental shelf containing a clause requiring free and fair provision for British companies in the procurement process.

Mr Hayes said: “I make no apologies for being a patriot—no one in this House should—so of course the measure has to be quality. I know that, by and large, British is best.”

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He said that people’s interests must be put first as the Government moved forward with it nuclear supply chain action plan.

He also said the new oil and gas sector strategy would focus on how the Government can develop further opportunities in the North Sea to the benefit of communities and of the supply chain.