Energy & business services:
2018 promises to be another year of exciting change in the energy sector, and to highlight how things have progressed in the north the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm team have produced a short booklet outlining the significant milestones that have been achieved during 2017 – you can access the booklet at https://www.beatricewind.com/single-post/2017/12/22/lookingbackat2017
The Crown Estate has this week been promoting an excellent video of a day in the life of an offshore technician based at Ramsgate, servicing the 175 turbine London Array, which is currently the world’s largest offshore wind development. https://youtu.be/vfUhBKZR4sU the video provides a practical look at what an offshore technician does.
Subsea7 has announced a major contract award that will bring employment back to its site at Wester, just north of Wick in Caithness. The welcome news is that the company has won an EPCI (engineering, procurement, construction and installation) contract from Norwegian energy giant Statoil for its “Norre” field, and a significant element of the contract will involve the company’s unique pipeline bundle technology, which is delivered through its facility at Wester, which features fabrication shops and four railtracks, the latter having been upgraded during the past 12 months (https://www.subsea7.com/content/dam/subsea7/documents/whatwedo/spoolbases/Wick.pdf). It is estimated that the contract will result in 120-150 jobs at the facility, bringing a significant boost to the local economy. http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Caithness-to-get-big-jobs-boost-27122017.htm And on a related note, it was great to see Subsea7’s Manager at Wester being given well-deserved recognition in the New Year Honours – congratulations Willie Watt MBE!
A further source of employment opportunity in Caithness & North Sutherland is the announcement just before Christmas that a major contract to support the next phase of decommissioning at Dounreay has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The decommissioning services framework agreement will be for an initial period of 4 years, with the possibility of extensions of up to 3 years. The work to be done under the framework – which could be worth up to £400 Million in total – will include some major construction projects, and will bring opportunities to the area’s experienced supply chain companies as well as other companies from outside the area. And importantly, any bids submitted will need to include a socio-economic plan, setting out how the bidding company/ companies will help create a “positive legacy”. https://dounreay.com/2017/12/major-contract-support-next-stage-dounreay-clean/
Tourism, Food and Drink:
2018 will mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Caithness Horizons building in Thurso. The project was a good example of the value of coordinated funding of infrastructure, and was supported in its development phase by many of the partners (Dounreay, NDA, Highland Council, HIE) who would go on to develop CNSRP. The centre’s original manager, Beki Pope, left in December and a new commercial manager has now been appointed for a six month period to help lead the organisation through a challenging funding landscape. Tracy Dodson, who currently manages a facility in North Sutherland, will help this change management process. More at http://www.caithnesshorizonsmuseum.com/the-team/
As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:
I’m delighted to have delivered a number of presentations on the work of CNSRP partners during 2017, and look forward to doing more in the coming year. In these presentations I try to provide a “big picture” look at what our area’s economy could look like over the next 10-15 years, based on some of the key opportunities we have identified. Last month saw CNSRP partner the Highland Council publish some helpful statistics on what the Thurso, Wick and Farr schools rolls in the area might look like in 15 years time. And – contrary to some views – the projected trend is for an increased number of school age students by 2032/33. And helpfully this date coincides with the current date identified for the “interim end state” at Dounreay, giving us a useful reference point to help give a better context for what we are doing – and why we are doing it. More on the figures for schools is at https://www.highland.gov.uk/schoolrollforecasts
Whilst much attention has deservedly been given to the North Coast 500 during 2017, this year will see one of the north’s hidden gems being promoted around Scotland. The Flow Country has seen significant investment in research and visitor facilities, and the Flow Country Touring Exhibition will spend 2018 in selected venues across the country, starting this month in Stirling and finishing the year at the Glasgow Science Centre. It is a great opportunity to highlight the value of the area, and to attract visitors and researchers. http://theflowcountry.org.uk/touring-exhibition-venues-and-dates/
An excellent review of 2017 is the centrepiece of the most recent edition of the “Energy North” supplement produced by Scottish Provincial Press. In addition the issue covers the news that an oil and gas field off the Caithness coast is currently being explored, and the MeyGen project being awarded “Outstanding Project” at the Scottish Green Energy Awards. http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&edid=f47f52ca-f11b-4fba-897c-42bc7c65bc14