A numerous delegation from the Falkland Islands Chamber of Commerce is on its way to Scotland for a five day high-profile meeting with peers from Aberdeen and the Shetland Islands which begins next May 8.
The purpose of the trip is to promote trade and investments but also capacity building and secure technology transfer skills as the Falkland Islands gears up for the economic opportunities spurred by recent oil and gas discoveries to the north and south of the Islands.
The Falklands Chamber of Commerce has a 16 year relationship with the Aberdeen and Grampian Chambers of Commerce, and this visit is considered a major step forward and follows in the wake of the Rockhopper Exploration success with the Sealion oil field and the recent announcement from Borders & Southern Petroleum Darwin well.
Aberdeen, known as oil and city is the hub for the development and production of the North Sea hydrocarbons resources, and has close relations with the Falklands budding hydrocarbons’ industry.
Likewise the Shetland Islands with an economy similar to that of the Falklands until the end of the seventies, when massive offshore oil deposits were found completely transforming the Islands, can help the Falklands with their experience and expertise.
The trade delegation is being led by Member of the Legislative Assembly, Dick Sawle, who has responsibility for trade and industry matters, and is the first time such a business delegation has been led by a Falklands lawmaker.
The 30-member delegation is in the framework of the Faklands Economic Development Strategy, EDS, which the Chamber of Commerce co-authored with the Falklands’ government and is seen as the central building block of all future development initiatives.
On the first day of the agenda there will be a presentation by different experts and officials form Aberdeen on the oil and gas industry, development, energy infrastructure and growth opportunities as well as local partnerships and strong local identity.
On the second day at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre following a short presentation from Roger Spink, Falklands’ Chamber of Commerce president, MLA Dick Sawle will talk about the Falklands’ fiscal and legal framework and government policies relative to oil development.
This will be followed by Andy Morrison who will address the Sealion oil discovery and development and potential, and finally Mr Spink will give an overview of existing capacity, infrastructure and business development in the Falklands.
Day three will be dedicated to visiting Altens Industrial State, while the following days will be spent in the Shetlands.
In the islands’ capital Lerwick, Douglas Irvine Executive Manager from the Shetland Islands Economic Development Council will give a picture of the Shetland oil industry which will be followed by several conferences on the Falklands: “FIG polices and legal framework of doing business in the Falklands” by MLA Dick Sawle.
This will be followed by a presentation from Mathew Vincent and Lewis Clifton on the Sealion development and experience of working with Rockhopper Exploration in the exploration phase.
Then an overview of the Falkland Islands Chamber of Commerce, private sector history, current infrastructure, established businesses and capacity, and opportunities by Roger Spink.
Sandra Laurenson, Port Lerwick Authority CEO, will talk about the workings of the port, which will later be followed by a tour of the harbour.
The following and last day of the agenda includes a visit to the Sullom Voe oil and liquefied gas terminal, one of the largest in the UK.
In its brochure on the visit the Falklands Chamber of Commerce president Spink states that the Islands economy was many years ago based on wool exports, but its current prosperity has been built upon the successful local management and operation of the fishing industry.
The service sector has flourished due to the activity and prosperity that commercial fishing has brought to the Falklands, together with the growth of the tourism industry.
In this framework oil exploration activity has brought much in the way of economic activity and is a welcome diversification in our sources of income.
“The future potential is immense as is the risk and the next few years may well prove transformational for the Islands economy”. But “with or without oil development, the Chamber believes its role is to lobby to create the right economic environment for its members businesses and to enable the Falklands’ economy to grow”.