Guest Blog: Joanne Leng MBE, Deputy Chief Executive at NOF Energy, talks about the North East Energy Sector

Joanne Leng MBE, Deputy Chief Executive, NOF Energy
Joanne Leng MBE, Deputy Chief Executive, NOF Energy

In our latest guest blog, Joanne Leng MBE, Deputy Chief Executive of NOF Energy talks about the North East’s energy sector and why the region is a great asset for the global energy industry.

Most people agree that the only constant in all our lives is change and this could not be further from the truth when it comes to the UK energy sector. We continue to strive for the much needed balanced energy mix but this means all levels of industry along with the UK Government and associated stakeholders have to get behind the drive and in doing so we have to embrace change.

Oil & Gas following a major downturn is starting to present new opportunities in 2018, in fact the latest North Sea licensing rounds announced last week demonstrate that the big guys are not quite ready to give up on the North Sea just yet, in fact BP, Shell, Equinor (formerly Statoil) and ConocoPhillips are all making firm commitments to drill exploration wells. The UK Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) has in fact offered for award 123 licenses over 229 blocks or partial blocks to 61 companies. This most definitely signals a revival. Supply chain get set, ready, go….

On to offshore wind, costs continue to fall as manufacturers and developers continue to install bigger turbines, supply chain companies continue to bring innovation forward to make projects more competitive and the drive to embrace UK content gains momentum.

There is no doubt the North East of England, with a rich heritage in heavy engineering, shipbuilding, offshore oil & gas is exceptionally well positioned for future work from the energy sector.

The ORE Catapult based in Blyth is the UK’s leading technology, innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy. The concrete gravity-based foundation (GBF) destined for the EDF Energy Renewables Blyth Offshore Demonstrator Wind Farm were fitted with a groundbreaking sensor system designed by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. This is just one example of how the region is leading the way in driving innovation forward.

Energy Central in Blyth is a major development opportunity, the site provides access to expansive land development opportunities combined with deepwater access to open sea and associated port services provided by the Port of Blyth. Energy Central is a hub for national and regional electrical distribution with National Grid, Northern Power Grid and EDF Energy having active operations on the site as well as the Norway UK Interconnector which is the biggest project of this type in the world. A prime location not just for offshore renewables but also for oil & gas decommissioning going forward.

Other companies doing fantastic work in the energy space in the region includes Smulders Projects UK who were awarded a contract for assembling pioneering suction bucket foundations for Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) and also the contract for the jackets for the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm.

NOF Energy, the membership based business development organisation set up in 1988 has spent many years actively promoting the regional capabilities in the energy sector and ensuring the North East of England is seen as a key hub not just for the supply chain but for the larger client companies seeking to set up facilities in the UK. Our services have helped generate over a quarter of a billion pounds of new business for members, we are most certainly not your average trade association, to us helping members win business is top of our priorities.

Many of the regions supply chain companies and industry’s big hitters attend NOF Energy’s Annual Conference and Exhibition, Energy – A Balanced Future. This year it takes place on 14th June and we will aim to highlight future changes across the energy industry, a new topic on the agenda is hydrogen, focusing on where opportunities may present in the future for the supply chain. Plus as always we will be highlighting key projects to the audience, one being the Atlantic SuperConnection which is bringing in hydroelectric and geothermal energy from Iceland to the UK using a 1500km subsea high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable. Plus there will be a new purpose built factory and test facility so lots of great investment and jobs created in the process. Hear more about the project at the conference from their Executive Partner, Fiona Reilly.

The changing role, structure and demands of the supply chain will be the subject of discussion during two Panels sessions featuring NOF Energy Strategic Partners and leading supply chain businesses.

The Strategic Partners taking part in the Panel sessions include Senior Executives from Jacobs, Wood, Costain, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, PX Group and Worley Parsons. Leading supply chain businesses participating include Wilton Engineering, Smulders and Engie Fabricom.

I encourage executives from all business functions, technology, business development, finance, strategy, legal, production, IT, health & safety etc, to find time in their diaries to attend Energy – A Balanced Future on 14th June at Hardwick Hall Hotel Sedgefield where they will receive an insight to an ever-changing energy industry that will undoubtedly help them as they shape their future business strategies.

As with all NOF Energy events there will also be plenty time to network and develop new contacts and relationships. If you are not signed up plenty of time to do so, maybe see you there?

Joanne Leng MBE

Deputy Chief Executive, NOF Energy

For further information on North East England’s Offshore Energy Sector, please visit Energy Gateway North East England

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