This year signals another gear-shift in the energy transition to a lower-carbon economy. Spearheaded by COP 21, governments around the globe are setting far-reaching ambitions to fundamentally re-stitch the tapestry of the energy industry, society and the natural environment. Parts of the energy sector have translated this into opportunity, while others may see Damocles’ sword hanging precariously above them.

As a sector, I believe we have two choices: to continue with business as usual, and hope that this is sufficient going forward, or we can adapt to the new environment.

It is my view that the downstream oil sector can and must capitalise on its ability to innovate, adjust and reinvent itself. However, it needs to think differently and to think differently it needs to continue to make a compelling case to attract fresh minds with new ideas from the next generation of talent.

To that end, last December UKPIA organised a parliamentary event jointly with the All Party Parliamentary Group on the UK Oil Refining Sector on the Future of Industry. Each of UKPIA’s member companies sent their rising stars to Westminster to share their views with parliamentarians on the exciting careers and opportunities that the downstream oil sector offers. What we heard was truly inspirational.

For a refinery engineer, for instance, overcoming the highly complex engineering challenges that the sector faces in meeting ever-stringent regulation and a changing market demand is certainly daunting, but was considered unparalleled in terms of job satisfaction for those who had cracked it.

Articulate, professional and diverse, our cohort of next generation leaders left MPs with the message that the downstream oil sector is a fundamental contributor to UK plc.

Over the course of 2018, government is also celebrating the Year of the Engineer. The downstream oil sector will certainly not be conspicuous by its absence. Indeed, one of UKPIA’s priorities will be to work with young ambassadors to promote a sector that offers a rewarding career. We have a compelling story to tell, what we need to do is stick our heads above the parapet and share our challenges with the next generation of talent.