A Safe and Sustainable Future?

July 6, 2020

By Gillian King, VP Europe, Africa, Russia & CIS

Published in Energy Voice, July 2020

The last article I wrote for Energy Voice was in October 2019 and my focus was on maximising economic recovery and embracing the energy transition to ensure the UK continental Shelf (UKCS) continues to be a sustainable and competitive basin for years to come.

How the world has changed in these last few months!

As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis and realise the longer-term implications on oil price, there will be a shift in focus from production optimisation to safety and operational efficiency.  And now, more than ever, the opportunities that present themselves from a net-zero perspective must be grabbed with both hands.

The health and safety of our employees has always been of paramount importance and we have a strong safety culture within our organisation.  During these times of change, we need to ensure we keep the focus on this through constant innovation.

Prior to lockdown, we held a two-day ‘safety stand down’ at our manufacturing facility which involved walk-arounds, interviews, equipment and process reviews, HSE quizzes and a hazard hunt. The concepts of complacency, risk perception and hazard awareness were some of the topics covered and real opportunities for workforce engagement and continual improvement resulted.

As we look ahead to a return to ‘normal’ working conditions, there are many lessons to be learned around work-life balance and the use of online platforms for effective communication, lessening the need for constant and excessive travel.  Much is being done to ensure the safety of our employees as we prepare to head back to our offices, workshops and rig sites.

In terms of efficiency, once again the industry will need to get smarter.  Over the last few years, we’ve became lean, with operational costs within the basin already halved. There was not much fat to be trimmed off the supply chain when the oil price went negative for the first time ever, in April this year. This is where digitalisation, automation and machine learning will really start to play a role and we’ve already seen a shift towards this.

There are also significant gains to be made by looking at our operations and supply chains to make them more efficient and to reduce our wastage.  The move to a more circular economy has massive potential to make us more competitive whilst reducing our carbon emissions and contributing to our net-zero goals. This is a golden opportunity for the UKCS to lead the way. With OGUK’s Roadmap 2035, the OGA’s strategy refresh around decarbonisation and the £62m Energy Transition Fund recently announced by the Scottish government, we are quickly becoming the energy industry that we can be proud to work in.



Sustainability in our hands