The UK must “seize the opportunity” to become a pioneer in oil and gas decommissioning, Treasury minister Andrew Jones has said ahead of an industry conference.
Mr Jones, who will address the Offshore Europe event in Aberdeen on Tuesday, said the sector should develop expertise in cleaning up and dismantling old rigs and pipelines, and sell it to the world.
The North Sea is one of the first regions to start decommissioning on a large scale.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) forecasts UK operators will spend almost £60 billion on the process between now and the 2050s.
Mr Jones, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The UK oil and gas industry supports 300,000 jobs and, with up to 20 billion barrels of oil yet to recover, has many productive years ahead.
“As the need for decommissioning grows, we must seize the opportunity to cement the UK as a world-leader in this field and export this knowledge globally.
“Efficient decommissioning means big changes to the oil and gas industry – requiring new technology, skills and innovative approaches.
“This will ensure that decommissioning is safe and cost-effective while also protecting the environment.”
The UK Government said tax relief on decommissioning – which covers about 40% of the total cost for UK companies – and a pledge by the OGA to reduce the overall cost by 35% will help create new opportunities, advance technology and generate jobs.
OGA chief executive Andy Samuel said: ” We are working closely with operators and service providers and are already seeing some great performance in cost-efficient decommissioning, new collaborations and technology trials.
“This bodes well for the shared target of 35% cost reductions and the considerable domestic and export value that can be realised.”