1999 Annual Report
UKOOA has been on a voyage of change over the past three to four years, and whilst it has
undoubtedly come a long way it still has a considerable way to go if it is to meet the challenges
that the Industry currently faces.
It has been a great challenge for me, and will continue to be so for my successors, to ensure that
UKOOA continues to make good progress on this voyage. I think it would be true to say that the
past was characterised by a bilateral, polarized relationship between UKOOA and Government.
UKOOA largely ignored external relationships, focusing instead on the issues, mainly technical
ones, which it understood and could see itself as "owning" or "controlling".
UKOOA’s voyage of change began when, in 1996, the Industry realised that there were an increasing
number of issues which it was not going to be possible for the Industry to own or control as in the
past. Under George Watkins, UKOOA had a stark choice, either remain internally focused and yield
control over the Industry’s future to others, or engage with external stakeholders and play a part
in influencing the outcome of critical policy debates.
Since that time UKOOA has progressively engaged with its stakeholders, and society as a whole, on
an increasing scale. Engagement has, and continues to have, risks and sometimes it is not possible
to be certain about the outcomes that debate will have. At times, we struggle to find the consensus
on UKOOA policy that will facilitate our chosen role. However, evidence is building that we are more
respected as an organization. Most of our membership have now strongly agreed that engagement
is essential if the Industry is to play a full role, not just in society, but in its own future.
The year of my Presidency, 1999, will probably go down in our industry’s history as the year of
the Oil and Gas Industry Task Force (OGITF). The OGITF typifies our transition from an industry
that dealt with internal issues to one that was dealing with external stakeholders and, in doing so,
seeding some control. Our polarized, bilateral relationship with Government has been replaced with
a collaborative, inclusive model engaging all stakeholders. The benefits of this approach are clear
and many. For the first time in memory, Government is unlikely to unilaterally undertake any major
change impacting upon the Industry. The new model is one of consultation and discussion and
working out ways forward together. Undoubtedly this model has and will have clear benefits for
fiscal, environmental and many other areas.
UKOOA’s relationship with our sister organisations has changed too. The past year has seen
groundbreaking agreements with the Trade Unions and we are talking to and working alongside
NGOs. The dividends being realised are very real. The standing of the Industry, based on a greater
understanding, is increasing.
One of the greatest challenges that UKOOA now faces is delivering upon the commitments that
we have been willing to make to society. We have made a lot of promises, to numbers and specific
levels of environmental performance for example and to the way we shall collaborate and engage
externally. As part of the OGITF we committed to delivering increased activity in the UKCS, as part
of Step Change in Safety, along with all other sections of industry, we committed to improvements
to safety performance. We must now be able to deliver on these commitments.
I would like to take Step Change in Safety as an example. Here we made a commitment, put in
a lot of energy, but despite that the figures at first did not reflect the effort being put in. This year
we have seen some signs that the work put in by a large number of people is beginning to have a
beneficial effect. Now is not the time to reduce that effort, but rather to increase it. Whatever the
outcome of this particular initiative it cannot be seen as a "one-shot effort". It must live on and we
must build on its achievements.
UKOOA will only deliver if it can be guaranteed the energy and involvement of all those surrounding
it. The lifeblood of UKOOA is the Committee structure and our ability to function effectively lies
with our Committee Chairmen and Chairwomen and having an effective Secretariat. I saw my role
as a President as ensuring the delivery of our objectives through encouragement of that energy.
It is a fact that we all face competing priorities and work, in the majority, in shrinking organisations.
It is in all our interests, and crucial to our success, to ensure that UKOOA continues to deliver value
for the industry and its members.
The economic climate surrounding our industry has meant that all members of UKOOA are far more
focused on, and concerned with, obtaining value for money in all that we do. The Secretariat too,
ably led by James May, is far more aware of this need. The need is not just to add value, but to
create value, identifying ways of improving and innovating on UKOOA’s process and UKOOA’s
UKOOA’s continued success depends on being able to deal with a large number of crucial issues in
a small number of Committees. Issues that will need highly motivated and skilled members of those
Committees applying a lot of energy and commitment. We will need to make sure that we invite a
lot of external stakeholders to share in our deliberations and help us find the solutions so that we
can continue to bring the undoubted benefits that we deliver to society for many years to come.
The past year has just been one step upon the journey started by George Watkins and I have enjoyed
my year leading us along that path. I certainly intend to do everything that I can to ensure that my
successor and my continuing colleagues have every chance of achieving success for both UKOOA and,
thereby, their own businesses. We have achieved a lot, much that we can be proud of, but the path
continues to get steeper.