The biggest names reveal it’s what you know that counts

What do Lord Browne, Subsea UK chief executive Neil Gordon, Lord Cullen and Sir Ian Wood all have in common?

Firstly, they are all leading figures in the international oil and gas industry. Secondly, they have all appeared (in the above order) on the front cover of SPE Review, the magazine for the Aberdeen, London and wider European sections of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. And thirdly, at the end of last year, Fifth Ring took over the responsibility for content and production of SPE Review, and they have all been interviewed by me in my role as the magazine’s contributing editor.

Working on the editorial for SPE Review, alongside the editor, my colleague Phil Allan, has given me a fantastic opportunity to listen to some of the biggest names in this sector share their views, their visions and, in some cases, their concerns about the future of the oil and gas industry.

Without hesitation, each of these high-profile individuals has given over a portion of their valuable time to explain their thoughts, patiently work through some of my convoluted and occasionally random questioning and deliver responses that are relevant, insightful and meaningful to a wider audience.

In the April issue of SPE Review, for example, Sir Ian Wood explains in detail the key points and findings within his recently published final report on a new strategy for Maximising the Economic Recovery from the UK Continental Shelf (MER UK).

The publication of the review was described by Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change ED Davey MP as a ‘seminal moment’ in the history of Britain’s oil and gas industry while political parties have endorsed its recommendations.

The March issue of SPE Review features Lord Cullen, who of course chaired the public inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster which transformed HSE operational procedures in the North Sea and the offshore oil and gas industry worldwide. Sitting in the sunny comfort of his home in early February, after first having discussed the onset of snowdrops in his garden, he went on to explain patiently, politely and in great detail, the significance of the human factor in safety and the need to address the issue effectively.

Neil Gordon’s enthusiasm for his role and the subsea sector at large was evident. In February’s issue of SPE Review, he spoke passionately about the world-leading position our subsea service sector enjoys and the staggering developments that are taking place within the industry on the seabed.

January’s SPE Review saw former BP chief executive Lord Browne reveal his optimism for the future of the North Sea and call for a serious discussion on the role of petroleum in relation to other forms of energy.

And more big names will follow, as we look to speak to the most appropriate people in the industry who, in turn, see SPE Review as an opportunity to speak to some of the most influential people in the industry – the magazine’s readership.

It’s become a standing joke in the office, but before every big interview, I get asked by my colleagues if I am excited. The answer is, and always will be, the same. I don’t get excited about the interviewee’s reputation, or worried that the questions might not be the right ones, but I do get excited about learning from their knowledge. I get excited when I hear their enthusiasm for the oil and gas industry in their voices. That’s another thing they all have in common, and in that sense, we are all equals.