A marine engineer with a passion for oil and gas technology has outlined plans which could save the taxpayer billions of pounds and bring new jobs to the region.
Joe Glass, from Rothbury, has designed a new submersible that could change the way oil platforms are transported back to shore after their useful life ends, saving billions on decommissioning costs over the next 20 years.
It could also bring much-needed jobs to the North East if his dream of having a fleet of the subs built here comes to fruition.
Joe has joined forces with Seaways Engineering International Inc as managing director (UK). The Californian company has used his experience of the oil and gas industry and his marine engineering skills to help solve a problem that will cost the Government more money to decommission end-of-life oil platforms than the tax that they will earn from production.
Instead of the costly process of using specialist ships for the removal of oil and gas platforms, he reckons his submersible NESSIE can be built at less than 10 per cent of the cost of a ship and operated at a correspondingly lower day-rate.
However, the cost of further development is prohibitive and Joe has been actively canvassing politicians and industry leaders for support and looking to the oil and gas sector for financial funding. The results are promising. Seaways Engineering has been approved by OGIC (Oil and Gas Innovation Centre) for 50 per cent funding for Strathclyde University to carry out further research.
Joe said: “The cost of further work is expensive and we’ve exhausted our research and development budget. I need either the Government or a leading oil company to look at our plans and the fully working model with a view to putting in sufficient funds to enable a full-size prototype to be made.
“Our financial target is a further £20,000 to make things happen. Ironically, this is literally a drop in the ocean compared to the benefits. The sad thing is I know this will work and I truly believe that it will save companies and the Government billions of pounds in the long-term.
“The other benefit is that it will slash costs and bring much-needed jobs to the North East. I’d love to be able to have a fleet of NESSIEs built in the North East of England while we still have the experience and technical know-how to do it. The billions saved will regenerate towns and blighted areas in the North East and Scotland and help create new industries associated with decommissioning.
“This is probably the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced but I know that once the oil and gas industry see the benefits of NESSIE they will invest in her.”