’May you live in interesting times’ is actually purported to be a Chinese curse 2016 was certainly interesting for society in general and our industry in particular. Whether it was cursed remains to be seen.
Brexit, both in the run up and subsequent period, following the surprise referendum result, has occupied politicians and the media in relentless conjecture and examination of options for the UK’s future relationships with the EU. UKPIA has used its best endeavours to play a useful part in informing government of its views on the wider implications of the nation’s withdrawal from the EU, and specifically what path we think vital policy affecting our industry should take in a post-Brexit world.
The disbanding of the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the formation of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has yet to fully bed down, with Brexit demands pulling resources from this and other government departments to meet the considerable and unprecedented need for manpower and skills required to pave the way ahead.
However, the announcement that the UK is to have an Industrial Strategy at last was welcome news for UKPIA members and other hard-pressed energy intensive industries facing global competition. We can but hope that this strategy fully recognises the importance of our domestic manufacturing infrastructure and takes the commitments set out in the Regulator’s Code as a platform on which to build a strategy that delivers long-term confidence that attracts inward investment to all manufacturing sectors.
Of concern, however, was the fact that December 2016 saw the reshuffle of the 14th energy minister in 20 years, which indicates that government has some way to go before it takes the oil sector downstream and upstream as seriously as it merits.
It is therefore heartening that we have a dedicated and proficient group of civil servants in BEIS.
So, this ’interesting time’ we are living through has thrown up some profound challenges for our policymakers and the downstream oil industry.
Trade Associations representing the sector must continue to ensure that their voices are heard where and when it matters.