Good evening and welcome to Eden Hall for this UKTI networking reception, which we have arranged in collaboration with The Energy Industries Council.
I hope it has been a successful couple of days for those of you attending the 20th annual Offshore South East Asia (OSEA) Exhibition. I know that it’s not over yet.
Now I am not going to presume to tell any of you about the industry that you work in. What I would like to do, though, is just to highlight three reasons why you are all standing here in this house and even, just in case you are wondering, why we have this house.
My first point is that much of what we do here in Singapore needs to be seen in the context of supporting UK companies in the global market.
The bottom line is that back in 2010 the British government set a target of increasing our exports to £1tn by 2020 and ever since then a top priority for all British High Commissions and Embassies around the world has been to do whatever we can to help UK exporters to achieve that target.
And the industry that you represent is fundamentally important to delivering on that ambition.
You probably would prefer that I didn’t highlight this, but in 2012 and 2013 the industry paid £6.5 billion in tax on production and the wider supply chain is estimated to have contributed another £5 billion in corporate and payroll taxes.
As significant, your industry supports some 450,000 jobs across the UK with around 100,000 of those jobs directly relating to the exports of products and services.
The UK is internationally recognised as a global leader in subsea engineering and a centre of excellence in project management, design engineering, asset and operational management, design and manufacturing of advanced equipment, research and development, safety management training and education and professional and financial services for the sector.
What this all means is that, in the words of Prime Minister David Cameron, no other sector in the UK has brought more prosperity to Great Britain, and the UK remains the 19th largest Oil and Gas producer in the world.
Much of this production has been achieved in some of the harshest environments on earth and which has lead to UK companies having to derive ever more complex and innovative solutions.
It is clear that if we are going to maintain this then we will need to work harder than ever, and that brings me to my second point and the importance of developing a spirit of partnership between HMG and the private sector.
That partnership takes many forms. At a strategic level it is captured in the Oil and Gas sector strategy, one of 11 that makes up our overall industrial strategy.
Published in 2011 it makes clear that industry and government will work together to maximise the economic production of the UK’s offshore oil and gas resources; to sustain and promote the growth of the UK industry’s supply chain, in both domestic and international markets; and to promote purposeful collaboration across industry and between industry and Government.
At a practical and local level that means that all around the world there are UK Trade and Investment teams, such as the one led by Nikki Hewett here in Singapore, standing ready to work with UK companies to promote business opportunities in international markets throughout the world.
They do this by providing a range of services and information, leveraging their local contacts and expertise, providing networking opportunities, such as this evening, to help facilitate good business relationships.
Actually what it means is we are here to serve, and if you think there’s something we are missing here then let me know, after all you now know where I live.
Which brings me to my final point.
The partnership between the UK and Singapore and, through Singapore, with the wider region is of crucial importance to us.
Singapore is a country with no natural resources yet the oil and gas industry has over many years been one of the pillars upon which its economic strength has been built, with some UK companies playing a role for over 100 years.
The fact that you are here today and some 20,000 visitors will visit more than 1500 exhibitors at OSEA, underlines how important the industry is, not just to Singapore but to the whole of South East Asia and the world in general. It also indicates the huge range of opportunities available for UK companies wishing to do business in the region.
I said earlier that I was not going to lecture you on your industry. I am still not going to. But I would just observe that you are central to resolving many of the challenges the world will face.
How to fuel our economic growth while addressing the impacts of climate change, how to maintain steady, affordable energy supplies, the political consequences of resource scarcity.
Opportunities will emerge as global energy demand rises with Southeast Asia’s energy demand set to increase by over four-fifths in the period to 2035.
Asia-Pacific alone accounted for a 56% increase in global oil demand from 2000 to 2010 and will potentially account for up to 70% of global demand by 2020.
It has never been more important for the UK to build relationships in this part of the world to address these challenges, by sharing new technologies and innovations across the whole of the oil and gas sector to maximise efficiencies, not just around production and exploration but for the whole of the supply chain.
We will do so by building on our heritage, developing our innovation and research links, and creating economic and business partnerships for the decades to come.
That is what this house is here for, and why I am delighted to welcome you all here this evening.
Now, finally you get to hear from a real expert. It’s my pleasure to invite Jonathan Goh, Director of External Relations at the Energy Market to say a few words.