University to host debate on the big questions in oil and gas

The big questions and decisions critical to our energy future will be debated at a public conference at the University of Aberdeen on 8-9 May.

Politicians, academic experts, industry leaders, activists and interested members of the public will tackle challenging issues such as how we should use the profits from oil and gas, the future of the oil and gas workforce, and how oil and gas production can best be reconciled with care for the environment.

Taking part in lively discussions will be politicians Tom Greatrex MP, Shadow Energy Minister, and former MSP Christopher Harvie, author of Fools' Gold: Story of North Sea Oil. Industry representatives will include Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, and Jake Molloy, general secretary of the OILC. Mandy Meikle of Transition Towns and other activists will contribute. They will be joined by leading academics from the UK, Scandinavia, Latin America and Canada.

The two-day event is being organised by the University’s Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and the Rule of Law (CISRUL).

Dr Trevor Stack, Director of CISRUL said: “In 2014 Scottish voters face a referendum on whether or not they remain citizens of the United Kingdom. Their understanding of the political economy of oil and gas is likely to play a significant part in how they decide their future.

“But Scottish independence is only one of many decisions to be made about the future of hydrocarbons. The conference falls just a few weeks before the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster, reminding us of the human cost of the windfall that offshore oil has brought to the UK. Controversies rage around renewables but also shale gas—and the conference will coincide with the UK release of a provocative film about fracking, Promised Land starring Matt Damon.

“Although the focus will be on the UK, the conference will address what can be learned from other countries (experts will speak about Norway, Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil and Kazakhstan) and will ask how the UK can meet its global responsibilities. Politicians, trade unionists, industry leaders, lawyers, activists and academics will debate the big questions from a variety of perspectives. We look forward to a challenging debate.”

For details and to register, please go to