Energy Voice | Opinion: To thrive abroad, strong domestic market comes first

I was saddened to learn of the death of Ken Forrest who, in my days as energy minister, was head of the oil and gas division of what was then known as Trade Partners UK.

That was several name changes and even more energy ministers ago!

Ken was the best kind of civil servant unshowy, widely respected, and committed to a particular area of expertise where he made a long-term difference. He dated all the way back to the Offshore Supplies Office which did so much to ensure that the UK, and the north-east of Scotland in particular, developed a thriving North Sea supply chain in the early days of the industry.

I shared a lot of long-distance flights with Ken the Philippines, Azerbaijan, Brazil spring to mind and the objective was always the same; to secure work for British companies which would translate into jobs at home.

That entailed diplomacy more than salesmanship and personal relationships were a crucial part of the mix.

Seeing the same faces more than once matters and Ken provided that continuity.

Ultimately, its companies which must have the appetite to seek out overseas markets and win contracts. But in many of the worlds leading oil and gas provinces, where ministers tend to make the big commercial decisions, the role of government to government relations is also critical. Indeed, this possibly applies more to oil and gas than to any other sector.

By and large, this partnership has worked well for the UK. Last week, for example, when 5,000 industry participants from all over ....

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