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The Scotsman: Shell displays faith in future with £25m oil and gas hub

Tue 25 Jul 2006

THE oil giant Shell has announced plans for a £25 million “centre of excellence” in Aberdeen, underlining its commitment to the North Sea.

A new state-of-the-art technical campus will be built to serve as a long-term base for expertise to support engineering, design and subsea developments for the global oil and gas industry.

The development should ensure a continuing key role for Aberdeen in the worldwide industry long after the last drop of offshore oil has been recovered from the North Sea.

Kieron McFadyen, Shell’s vice- president for technical development in Europe, said the investment reinforced the company’s commitment to Scotland and the North Sea, and its drive to establish Aberdeen as a global hub for the worldwide oil and gas industry. He said: “We can do just about anything here in Aberdeen. And it is about bringing local capability to bear regionally and globally.”

Under the development proposals, all 2,500 staff working for Shell UK in Aberdeen will be united on its headquarters site at Tullos. The 950 employees currently working at the leased Seafield House, off Anderson Drive, will move into the new, seven-storey, triangular glass office complex when the building is completed in 2009.

Work on what the company says will be an “iconic” building is scheduled to start early next year.

Mr McFadyen said: “It will position Aberdeen as a global energy hub, where we can take the experience and the capability we have developed over many decades and deploy it globally.

“Our projects people provide engineering and management expertise for projects around the world. You will see people working from Aberdeen on projects in West Africa, in Russia, in the Middle East and in many other locations throughout the world. Working together on one campus, we will have a dynamic talent base where local, regional and global systems of working will make this a hub of exceptional talent.

“Aberdeen is a fantastic situation for the industry, at the heart of the supply chain and with the capability to reach around the world.”

Mr McFadyen said that the establishment of the “technical centre of excellence” in Aberdeen would provide the city with a long-term base for expertise to support engineering and geosciences for oil and gas projects around the world.

It is hoped it will lead to the creation of jobs in the future.

He went on: “We see scope for more jobs and we are already seeing signs of higher demand, and higher demand will mean more capability.”

News of the development was widely welcomed yesterday. Malcolm Webb, the chief executive of the UK Offshore Operators’ Association, said: “Shell’s announcement is a huge boost for the industry. It is another demonstration of the commitment being given by oil and gas companies to the long-term future of the North Sea.

“It is also tremendous news for the supply chain based in the north-east of Scotland, whose expertise is increasingly being sought all around the world.”

Aberdeen’s lord provost, John Reynolds, said: “Continued investment in the city can only be hugely beneficial for the local economy.”

Kate Dean, the leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “This is a vote of confidence in the future of the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen. The fact that Shell are making this application says something about making Aberdeen a key centre of the global industry, long after North Sea oil reserves have been recovered.”

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