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James Bryce, newly appointed Partner in the corporate commercial team at Square One Law, specialising in the Energy sector, considers the North East’s role in the energy supply chain

As the energy industry evolves at pace in order to meet global energy needs and carbon reduction targets, the role of the supply chain has never been more essential in providing competitive solutions to emerging technologies and markets.

It is well known that the North East has many advantages when it comes to attracting significant companies in the energy sector and it is imperative that businesses are given every reason necessary in order to stimulate greater investment in our region.

The ability of North East businesses to build upon the region’s extensive heritage and reputation for engineering innovation and quality, allied to the geographical advantages of being able to service the North Sea oil and gas fields from the region’s ports, has allowed the North East to develop a network of innovative and world-renowned companies, cementing our position in the global energy sector.

More recently the region has developed an enviable reputation as a renewable energy hub with the development and testing facilities at NAREC providing a unique environment for the showcasing, testing and commercialisation of cutting edge technologies.

At Square One Law we have placed the energy sector at the heart of our strategy and our clients now see us a central component in the professional services supply chain. We have considerable experience of building relationships and working closely with some of the North East’s most respected companies. In particular we recognise the need to provide innovative and commercial solutions to the energy industry and have extensive expertise across a range of sectors.

We recognise that oil & gas will remain the core element of the energy mix for some time, driven partly by the emergence of new exploration and extraction technologies. There is also an opportunity for the region to develop itself as hub for decommissioning expertise – an area we are seeing increased focus on. Lawyers at Square One Law have advised a number of key suppliers to this sector including Fabricom, Able UK and Shepherd Offshore.

The North East supply chain is also diversifying to meet the challenges of delivering a more balanced energy mix. Our lawyers have been working closely with Able UK on the development of a strategic 820 hectare site on the Humber comprising Marine Energy Logistics and Business Parks to service the renewable energy sector.

My personal experience working as a member of the energy team at two international law firms over the last 10 years includes fund-raising for oil and gas exploration companies, advising on the development and sale of two onshore wind farms with over 160MW of generating capacity, as well as structuring a number of solar joint ventures.

The scale of investment that is necessary in order to cater for the needs of an expanding energy sector is enormous, with up to £100 billion needed to ensure that off-shore wind generation realises its potential in the UK and over £3 billion needed to finance planned carbon capture and storage projects in the North East.  This has the ability to create widespread social and economic benefits for the North East as the sector reaches its full potential.

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