Can you tell us about Pinsent Masons' history in the North Sea Oil & Gas sector?
Pinsent Masons has a long and established presence in the North Sea, and we're recognised as one of the leading providers of legal services to the industry – which we're very proud of. As a firm, we can trace our North Sea practice back to the advent of the O&G industry in the North Sea.
Throughout this time we've seen and experienced developments in the sector along with the rest of the industry. This has included technology, commercial innovation and pushing boundaries into harsher environments. We've been present during the several downturns the industry has experienced, and supported it through the difficult times and challenges it has been presented with.
Today, it's an exciting time for the industry and we're looking forward to the future. We are now seeing a new phase of energy transition – where the industry is re-finding itself and its place within the wider energy mix, as well as re-establishing its confidence as a relevant source of energy supply and essential hydro-carbon by-products.
Where do you see the opportunities for growth within the North Sea?
The focus for the industry at the moment is on the changing landscape. There has been an emergence of new players, which has brought new sources of investment and fresh thinking around corporate strategy, innovation and the application of technology to the North Sea.
But, this is not to say that we are going to have a complete departure from the pioneers and oil majors who have shaped the industry we know today who continue to make significant investment.
Most of the industry is recognising a new backdrop of attractive fiscal and legislative regime under the pioneering stewardship of the OGA and other initiatives that have come out of the Wood Review.
What do you see as the key challenges facing the industry?
The industry needs to maximise the opportunities from existing infrastructure, and consolidate essential infrastructure for each of the regional hubs. It's essential that operational infrastructure is appropriate for existing and future production.
It's also an important time for the industry to ensure the efficiency of recovery of proven reserves in the context of lower oil prices, and recognising that the supply chain requires sufficient margins to manage demand, and help oilfield services providers continue to innovate and develop their offerings.
Finally, we must increase exploration activity. The government sponsored acquisition of seismic activity is helpful, but as an industry we really need to find a way of increasing drilling activity.
How has Pinsent Masons' Oil & Gas business evolved in the last few years?
As the basin has evolved, the demand for advisory services as grown significantly.
In the early stages, we were frequently advising on regulatory and operational matters across the industry, providing oil and gas advice. The emergence of a greater variety of players has increased significantly and as such, demand has grown and needs diversified, which has transformed our practice with demand for a greater variety of the services we can offer.
This is by no mean restricted to the UKCS and, as we are very active advising clients on global matters across our international footprint.
What are the strategic priorities for the next 12 months?
Our main priority is to continue to provide our core services as our clients' needs evolve and the industry finds its place within the wider energy transition. There is an increasing demand for thoughtful, strategic advice on a number of the key issues that clients are facing, particularly as we are operating in an economy that presents both challenges and opportunities at local, national and global levels.
At Pinsent Masons we are continually looking at ways to different our services and developing new innovative ways of working. Pinsent Masons has been named Law Firm of the Year by the Financial Times and industry titles The Lawyer, Legal Business and Legal Week in each of the past five years.
What are you most looking forward to on WECA this year?
WECA is a truly unique gathering of global industry leaders and decision makers. It's a really exciting time for the industry – which is currently faced with the opportunity to reinvent itself and re-gain the confidence it has lost over the past few years, so I'm looking forward to hearing industry views on this and how this will be achieved.
We all have a key role to play in leading the next phase of the UK's O&G landscape, and it's conferences like this that help bring the industry together, to initiate discussions, build networks, and share learning.