Politics of Oil & Gas in a Changing UK: International Perspectives

Politics of Oil & Gas in a Changing UK: International Perspectives

This is a past event

Public conference

The conference was a great success and you are encouraged to read summaries and listen to audio recordings of it.

We intend to keep up the debate, and we welcome suggestions about how to take things forward. For now, please do

Description of conference

In 2014 Scottish voters face a referendum on whether they remain citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or become an independent nation state. Their understanding of the political economy of oil and gas is likely, for the first time since the 1970s, 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, and whether Scotland is independent or not, they are decisions that need to be taken. Public debate of the many aspects of this looming future is scarce, almost as if the future was inevitable or we were unable to influence it. Many decisions are being left to lawyers, government, experts or the market. The debate has taken place, moreover, with little reference to the vast array of international experience in the politics of oil and gas, across countries as diverse as Norway, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ecuador, Canada, the United States, as well as Nigeria, Venezuela and other OPEC member states.

At this significant moment in history, the University of Aberdeen, with partner organisations, decided to organise a public conference to bring together academics, politicians, environmental and civil right activists and trade unionists. It was hosted by the University’s Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and the Rule of Law (CISRUL). We aimed to stimulate broader public debate by addressing at the conference a series of key questions about the future of oil and gas in the UK (and beyond).

The conference began and ended with a focus on the decisions that need to be taken and on who should be involved in those decisions and how they should be involved. It focused on the decisions to be taken on three (overlapping) sets of issues:

1. What should be done with the profits of oil and gas?

2. How can oil and gas production be best reconciled with care for the environment?

3. What should be the future of the oil and gas workforce?

Although the focus will be on the UK, the conference addressed not just what can be learned from other countries, but included a session on the UK’s global responsibilities and how it can meet them.

Speakers included:

- Malcolm Webb, CEO, Oil & Gas UK

- Jake Molloy, RMT Regional Coordinator

- Tom Greatrex, MP (Labour), UK Shadow Energy Minister

- Charles Hendry MP (Conservative), UK Energy Minister 2008-12

- Christopher Harvie, ex-MSP (SNP), author of Fools' Gold: Story of North Sea Oil

- Barnaby Briggs, Strategic Relations Manager, Shell International

- Ewan Neilson, corporate lawyer, Stronachs

- Rob Edwards, environmentalist and journalist, regular contributor to Glasgow Herald, Scotsman

- Dick Winchester, energy columnist, member of Scottish Energy Advisory Board

- Mandy Meikle, activist, Transition Towns

- John McLaren, Hon Senior Research Fellow (Economics), U Glasgow

- John Paterson, Director, Centre for Energy Law, U Aberdeen

- David Toke, Reader in Energy Politics, U Aberdeen

- Simon Pirani, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Institute of Energy Studies

- Andrew Cumbers, Professor in Geographical Political Economy, U Glasgow

- Anna Zalik, Associate Professor in Environmental Studies, York U, Toronto

- George Frynas, Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility, U Middlesex

- Helge Ryggvik, Researcher, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, U Oslo

- Fernanda Wanderley, Professor, Universidad Mayor de San Andres, Bolivia

- David Broderick, ESPRC Fellow, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, U Manchester

King's College Conference Centre

Trevor Stack t.stack@abdn.ac.uk

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