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1999 Annual Report

President's Foreword

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. Bob Connon

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 delivery.

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.

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