Posted on: September 2, 2019

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With over 35 years of upstream experience, much of it at C-Suite level, Gneiss Energy’s Aberdeen-based Senior Adviser John Scrimgeour knows the industry inside out.

Ahead of Offshore Europe, we sat down with John to discuss the state of the industry, Energy Transition and the future of the North Sea.

Q: John, what do you think makes the current situation different to the numerous turning points the industry has experienced previously?

JS: The world’s oil reserve to production ratio, currently circa 50 years, is many times the historical norm so the focus is changing from finding reserves to producing them in a very competitive environment. The concept of peak oil has long since disappeared and it is almost certain that known reserves will be left in the ground as the world moves, albeit slowly, to renewable energy sources. If you want to produce your reserves you need to keep your lifting costs competitive.

Q: Northwest Europe in particular is focusing on Digital Transformation and Energy Transition. Can you help us get beyond the buzzwords?

JS: Digital Transformation is all about using the vast banks of oilfield data to make the industry in Northwest Europe more efficient and safer and therefore more able to compete commercially in a global industry. The vast amount of data we have on e.g. rotating equipment, can be used to improve their operations and avoid unplanned downtime or unnecessary and expensive maintenance. This presents a tremendous opportunity for companies to vastly improve financial, operational and HSE performance.

Energy Transition is about the industry’s licence to operate as responsible corporate citizens, doing our bit to lower carbon emissions by capture or more carbon efficient operations and at the same time moving the energy industry to the future which will be renewable. The Energy Transition is already changing the way in which the industry operates and thinks and while the challenge is significant, it offers a major opportunity for companies to engage in exciting new areas of business.

Q: How important do you see the role of innovation in the next 10 years of the North Sea?

JS: Innovation is crucial to the UKCS and to the country. The North Sea is, in the main, mature and if we want to stay competitive against newer, cheaper basins we will need to use technology to keep our costs in control.

The demand for technology is worldwide and technology developed here can be marketed across the globe to anchor our service industry in the UK. Our exports from the service industry are now bigger than the UKCS market, it flipped circa 5 years ago during the downturn which affected the North Sea more than other basins due to its cost profile.

Q: Are you concerned that the push for Energy Transition will bring about an even swifter end to commercial production in the North Sea?

JS: Not at all, in fact the opposite might be true. The oil companies need to be part of the process and embracing this will be part of their future growth. It will be a long process. In the UK we still get more than 70% of our energy from fossil fuels and that number is unlikely to drop below that until after the next decade.

Q: How are you placed to advise companies on strategies within the North Sea/elsewhere?

JS: I and the rest of the team at Gneiss Energy have a wealth of experience not only in how to develop oil and gas reserves but in developing a company and providing a strategy for Energy Transition and we’re ready to assist whatever aspect of energy asset management clients require.

We’ll be attending Offshore Europe and some of the events around it and look forward to meeting you there. Please feel free to get in touch.


John has wide experience in international government relations and petroleum contracts and a proven track record of maximising returns from oil and gas properties.

John is currently Emeritus Adviser to the Aberdeen Institute of Energy, University of Aberdeen and previously sat on the boards of the OGTC and of Opportunity North East Oil and Gas. Previously, he was COO of Gaelic Energy, a start-up oil company focused on small pools in the UKCS and the Technical and Exploration Director of Pentex, a UK independent oil and gas company.

John has been a Regional Manager for PetroCanada’s European businesses (in the UK, Norway and the Netherlands) and has also managed the restructuring of this business, post-merger with Suncor. He has managed the development and production of numerous oil and gas fields and has an excellent track record of project delivery and of increasing production from mature assets.

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