R&D spending in North Sea set to increase and boost Scottish economy

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By a Newsnet reporter

According to a leading expert in the field of oil and gas law, research and development spending in the seas around Scotland is expected to increase on the back of rising oil prices. 

The claim was made by Mr Martin Ewan, author of the book ‘Oil and Gas Law: Current Practice and Emerging Trends’ published by Aberdeen University.

By a Newsnet reporter

According to a leading expert in the field of oil and gas law, research and development spending in the seas around Scotland is expected to increase on the back of rising oil prices. 

The claim was made by Mr Martin Ewan, author of the book ‘Oil and Gas Law: Current Practice and Emerging Trends’ published by Aberdeen University.

The price of Brent crude has risen to an eight month high in the past week, due to concerns about the supply from Iran and the increasing international tensions in the Persian Gulf which risk affecting the world supply of oil from the politically unstable region.

Mr Ewan’s book is considered an essential reference work by oil and gas professionals, lawyers and academics who seek to negotiate their way through the complexities of law and legal regulations in the energy sector.  He is a partner in the law firm McGrigors, who are well established as specialists in this complex legal area, and act as advisors to multinational companies in the energy sector around the globe.

Mr Ewan said the brighter economic outlook recently seen in the oil industry, tied to stronger oil prices, would create an impetus to help bring new technologies to market.

He said: “With a generally more upbeat outlook and better oil prices than we have experienced in the last two years, more North Sea companies are reviewing their R&D spend and engaging in collaborations.”

Mr Ewan added: “As the North Sea province matures, extracting the remaining barrels of oil is one of most crucial challenges facing oil companies. The clever use of advanced technology will be main driver which dictates whether companies will succeed or fail.

“On the flip side, improving economic factors means more companies are starting to revisit projects which may have been put on the back burner in the last few years. Oil and Gas Law covers technology law and intellectual property and how these important sectors will play an integral part in making the most of what the North Sea still has to offer.”

This week experts gathered at an oil conference in Edinburgh heard that there is still over £1 trillion of extractable reserves left in the north sea.  The value of reserves still to be extracted is more than has been raised already and some insist that over half a century of drilling still remains.

The energy sector is one of the most thriving industries in Scotland and the skills acquired after over forty years of oil and gas exploration are now being transferred to the fledgling renewable sector.

Last week energy company Southern Scottish Energy received permission to construct a new research centre at Hunterston in Ayrshire to test prototypes for the next generation of large offshore wind turbines designed for the harsh conditions of the North Sea.  

North Ayrshire Council said the development would represent an investment of about £10m and had the potential to generate a range of local economic and contract opportunities, such as haulage, turbine base and access track construction, the supply of building materials, and mechanical, electrical and supervisory services.