Vince Cable

Energy firms announce investments at London summit

Energy companies have announced a series of investments including the launch of a new research centre and new oil and gas fields.

The six separate announcements were made in London at one of 18 summits organised by UK Trade and Investment to promote British business during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Around 4,000 jobs were expected to be created under plans for new oil and gas fields in the North Sea. The £1.4bn project, which should supply around 5 per cent of the UK’s gas production, involves GDF Suez, Centrica and Bayerngas.

BP announced it was investing £60m in an International Centre for Advanced Materials to support science and engineering, spread across Manchester and Cambridge universities and Imperial College, London, as well as the University of Illinois in the United States.

Other announcements included investment by Italian chemical producer Versalis at its Grangemouth site in Scotland, and recruitment of up to 50 new graduate staff by Oxfordshire-based geosciences business Neftex.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The oil and gas industry's immense contribution to our skills base, industrial capacity and strength as an exporter are pivotal as we rebalance our economy.

"Today's summit underlines the government's commitment to making the UK a great place for energy firms to do business, develop new technologies and recruit the best technicians and engineers.

"Collaboration between business and higher education institutions is boosting the status of the UK as a driver of innovation, and giving our firms a competitive edge. I'm pleased that BP has chosen to partner with a number of our world-class universities to find new and more efficient ways of using and generating power."

Bob Dudley, BP's group chief executive, said: "Advanced materials and coatings will be vital in finding, producing and processing energy safely and efficiently in the years ahead.

"Energy producers will work at unprecedented depths, pressures and temperatures, as refineries, plants and pipeline operators seek ever better ways to combat corrosion.

"Manchester has world-leading capabilities and facilities in materials and it was chosen after a global search to act as the 'hub' of the centre, with 'spokes' in other university departments worldwide."

The previous day, a number of green investments were announced, including Dagenham-based Closed Loop Recycling announcing that it would double its capacity, creating and safeguarding 100 jobs.

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