Energy minister says Scotland is open for business

Scotland’s energy minister reported Monday that the country hit a nine-year high in oil and gas exports last year, as Scottish oil and gas supply chain exports increased by 8.4 percent, to $12.7 billion.

North America was the largest international market, Fergus Ewing said.

Ewing is in Houston for the Offshore Technology Conference, where he and David Rennie, an energy executive with Scottish Enterprise, spoke with the Houston Chronicle during a busy day of promoting Scottish companies and encouraging global companies to continue doing business in Scotland.

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It’s not much of a stretch. Most global energy companies already are in Scotland, Ewing said.

“The oil and gas sector is on the upswing, largely because we’ve had four decades to learn how to do it in the North Sea,” he said. “That has resulted in a flowering of entrepreneurship. That is an important message to get across.”

Most of the major U.S. players have a Scottish operation, he said.

Ewing described himself as “a great lover of the USA,” but said Scotland is well-situated geographically to do business globally.

Rennie said Scotland offers some financial incentives to companies that open offices there, but he said the major advantage is the other help it will provide.

“We’re hungry for the business,” Ewing said.

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According to figures released in March, Scotland ranks as the European Union’s energy capital, accounting for 64 percent of the EU’s total oil production.

But investment in renewable energy is growing, too. Scotland now has 70 onshore wind farms.

“Until recently, we thought it was simply bad weather,” Ewing joked. “Now we know it is a business opportunity.”

Rennie noted that many oil and gas companies now have renewable energy divisions, so Scotland hopes to be able to export expertise in that area.


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