Category Archives: Oil & Gas

MP Pledges her Support for Engineering

Following complaints from local oil and gas companies about the lack of engineers, MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne Begg pledged her support to help fix the engineering skills shortage in Aberdeen, and the rest of the UK, by highlighting to young people the many exciting careers available in engineering and technology.

Dame Anne has signed up to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) pledge to support engineering in their constituency.

Dame Anne said: “Demand for engineers in the UK remains high and nowhere is it higher than in Aberdeen. Employers in Aberdeen involved in oil and gas and the supply chain often raise the shortage of engineers with me as a problem for their business and, with an ageing workforce, there is a pressing need to promote STEM to young people to develop the engineers of tomorrow.

“Further, we continue to see more women than men attending university but the level of female students studying STEM remains low.

“Having signed the IET Skills Pledge as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, I will continue to promote STEM to both boys and girls when I go into local schools.”

The motivation for the pledge comes in response to findings from the IET’s 2014 Engineering and Technology Skills and Demand in Industry survey, which indicate that 53 per cent of employers believe they should get more involved with schools, colleges and universities to help change the perception of engineering among young people.

Back Home Safe Campaign Launch

Dame Anne has shown her support for Unite the Union’s Back Home Safe campaign.???????????????????????????????

The campaign aims to provide better safety for those who work offshore and is calling for a full independent public inquiry.

Offshore workers can add their comments to the campaign by completing a flight survey at  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HelicopterSafety.

If you don’t work offshore, but you would like to support the campaign, you can sign an online petition at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HelicopterPetition

Regional officer for Unite, Tommy Campbell, said: “Over 1500 offshore workers have already backed a petition calling for action which will be presented to Oil and Gas UK in December.” He added: “Overwhelmingly, offshore workers are demanding action from the industry to improve the safety of offshore helicopter flights, Oil and Gas UK must now act.”

Anne commented: “The Offshore industry is not only important to the economy and prosperity of the North-East, but is one of the main economic drivers in the UK. It is a crucial industry, but the wealth it creates should not come at the cost of the lives and well-being of the people who work in it. That’s why Unite’s campaign to ensure that those working off-shore return back home safe is vital.”

Piper Alpha Disaster

On the 25th anniversary of Piper Alpha disaster Aberdeen South MP, Dame Anne Begg spoke in a debate in the chamber about how the tragedy affected communities in the North East. The full text from Dame Anne’s speech is below:

I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen North (Mr Doran), who knows as well as any and perhaps better than most that things changed forever as a result of the events of 6 July 1988. They changed for the families, the wives, the children and the parents of the 167 who died. Things changed for the 61 who survived, who remain haunted 25 years on by the memories they still have of the events of that day. Many of those men still live with both the physical as well as the mental scars of surviving when so many others—colleagues and friends—did not.

“Things changed forever, too, for the families of the survivors who have had to live with the effects on their loved ones and on the communities from which the men who died came. I know that things changed for my neighbours who worked offshore when they suddenly realised, “There but for the grace of God”; it was not until the Piper Alpha disaster that they realised just how dangerous the job was. It certainly changed forever the offshore oil and gas industry, which woke up to the dangers of the business and how heavy a price had to be paid if safety was not embedded into everything it did. Here was a stark and tragic illustration of just how important a strict safety regime is, and how crucial it is to carry out maintenance in a timely and safe manner, in order to keep the workers safe. It is terrible that it took the worst offshore disaster in history to act as a wake-up call to an industry that had in many ways behaved like the Klondikers of the American west.

“The biggest change, of course, was the implementation of all 106 recommendations of Lord Cullen’s report. All those recommendations were accepted by both the Government and the industry, and the offshore culture did change. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen North, I think the most significant recommendation was that the Department of Energy could no longer be the regulator of the industry, and responsibility was passed to the Health and Safety Executive.

“When I was a student, I worked in the purchasing department of Occidental’s headquarters in Aberdeen throughout the summer of 1977. Occidental was the operator of Piper Alpha, and it was found culpable by Lord Cullen’s inquiry. Despite that, no one was prosecuted. It was enough, however, for Occidental to disappear as a company and in a supreme irony, the building that housed Occidental in Aberdeen, where I had worked throughout that summer, became the home of the Health and Safety Executive, and it was renamed “Lord Cullen House”.

“On Saturday morning, I attended the incredibly moving ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary in Hazlehead park at the Piper Alpha memorial garden in my constituency. There was much poignancy—a fly past of a Sea King helicopter, the seven minutes it took to read out all 167 names and the touching of the memorial. Some may say that marking the anniversary of such a disaster is somehow maudlin, wallowing in tragedy and should be only for those directly affected, but I am not one of them. The memorial is very important for the whole offshore industry. It acts as a stark reminder of just how important it is to take safety seriously, never to let standards slip and to listen to people who are expressing concerns about particular working practices. Memories do fade, and attention to a safety regime can fade too, so regular reminders of what can happen when safety is not at the forefront of people’s minds are necessary as well.

“Although there has been a step change in safety in the offshore industry and attention to safety is much more prominent now, it remains a dangerous industry. Lives were lost most recently in the helicopter crash of 2009 when 16 people died. Remembering events such as Piper Alpha forces those working in the industry to pause and to take stock of what improvements could be made, to shake out any complacency that may have crept in, to emphasise the need for regulations and to question whether there are enough inspectors of a high standard working in the HSE’s new energy division to keep an eye on the ageing infrastructure in the North sea.

“The offshore industry is not only important to the economy and prosperity of the north-east of Scotland but is one of the main economic drivers of the UK economy. It is a crucial industry, but the wealth it creates should not come at the cost of the lives and well-being of the people who work in it. The 25th anniversary of tragic events such as Piper Alpha serves to remind us all of how high the human cost can be in making sure that the oil and gas on which we all depend in our daily lives keeps flowing.”

You can access the text from the full debate here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130711/debtext/130711-0003.htm#130711-0003.htm_spnew58.

Piper Alpha 25 year anniversary memorial

Dame Anne attended the Piper Alpha 25 year anniversary memorial service on Saturday 6th June, held in the memorial garden in Hazlehead Park.

This moving service brought together friends and family of those who lost loved ones in the offshore accident that claimed the lives of 167 men.

Anne said:

“Today provides an opportunity to reflect on the events of 25 years ago and remember the tragic loss of lives, the effect of which is still felt every day in Aberdeen and further afield.

“It offers the opportunity as well to appreciate the work which has been undertaken by the oil and gas industry during the past 25 years to ensure that those working offshore are safe.

“I would also like to praise efforts to restore the Memorial Garden, ensuring that all those affected have a space to remember those that were lost as a result of the disaster.”

Dame Anne is planning on speaking in a debate in Parliament on the Piper Alpha tragedy on Thursday this week (11th July 2013).

Johann Lamont visits Aberdeen City

Dame Anne joined Scottish Labour Party Leader, Johann Lamont on several site visits this week, alongside local MSPs Lewis McDonald and Richard Baker. They enjoyed a presentation by Dana Petroleum on the company and their project Western Isles for new oil wells East of Shetland.

Labour visit to Dana Petrolium
Labour politicians visit Dana Petrolium

Air Passenger Duty’s effect on Aberdeen

Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South, highlighted the negative impact air passenger duty (APD) is having on Aberdeen during a debate in the House of Commons.

A report released by Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports warns that APD could cost Scotland more than two million passengers a year by 2016, costing the Scottish economy £210 million in lost tourism spend per annum.

Dame Anne said: “It is clear by the 800 emails that I received from my constituents that the impact of APD is deeply felt by people in Aberdeen. We depend on air travel as there is no electrification of the railway line north of Edinburgh and it is highly unlikely that high speed rail will ever reach us.

“Passengers leaving Aberdeen are often connecting to routes via hubs like Heathrow. However, APD and the congestion caused by the lack of a third runway are making it difficult for Heathrow to compete with hubs such as Schipol, Paris or Frankfurt. Travellers are therefore choosing these airports where taxation is charged at a much lower rate or, is in fact, not levied at all.

“In Aberdeen, we have a lot of business travellers who want to be connected to emerging markets. Whilst I would like to see more direct flights from Aberdeen, it is crucial to the UK airlines that those travellers choose to fly via Heathrow and not other European hubs.”

Dame Anne Begg MP presents health & safety certificate

Dame Anne Begg MP was delighted to present Geoprober Drilling with their ISO 18001 Certificate.

 Established in 2004 to design and develop innovative engineering solutions to the numerous subsea challenges faced by the offshore industry, Geoprober Drilling has grown from a 3 man operation to an organisation of just under 40.   With a philosophy to “harness young ideas with experienced supervision” newly qualified engineers, with a fresh outlook on the offshore industry, are teamed with time served engineers to design novel solutions to some of the problems being faced by the industry especially in deep water drilling and completions.