Ian Ross is an International Trade & Investment Specialist. He is currently Senior International Business Executive, Oil and Gas, Scottish Development International (SDI).
SDI is Scotland’s Inward investment agency providing one of the most comprehensive sources of projects and business intelligence worldwide.
Ian’s current activities include Supporting Oil and Gas SME’s with international strategy development, market research, giving advice on market entry, channel management, international sales and marketing.
In this exclusive interview with Ayobami Adedinni, he shared his thoughts on the UK and Scottish governments’ investments in innovative technologies, plans for Nigeria’s oil and gas industry among other issues.
Tell us about your job
It’s my job to ensure that Scottish Oil and Gas supply chain companies use best practice when they come to market entry into oil and gas regimes globally. You’ll find Scottish engineering companies all over the world from Russia, China, South East Asia, Brazil, really wherever there’s an oil and gas field.
This is because we have a global reputation and brand in delivering safe and profitable fields.
There are over 2,000 Supply chain companies in Scotland for the North Sea and most export.
They generate $20 billion worth of sales every year and $10.4 billion in international sales.
I also lead on oil and gas trade missions. We ensure that our companies understand the local bureaucracy and legalities, local content requirements and how to do business.
Also, we also introduce them to potential partners and current opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
This allows our companies to quickly set-up in country with partners, sell their solutions and start making profit. This benefit both Scotland and Nigeria.
What’s the reason behind SDI?
SDI is a Scottish Government agency. We are the international business development agency for Scottish Enterprise. Scottish Enterprise is the economic development agency of Scotland. They work closely with the domestic companies to increase productivity, develop innovation and internationalisation.
How long has SDI been in existence?
SDI has been supporting our companies for over 40 years. I’ve been working with SDI for over 16 years and as a team we have a very good track record of helping companies enter into the market place. SDI recently commissioned a Scottish company market survey on our business in Nigeria.
Four years ago, Nigeria sales were $500 million while we did $140 million in sales two years ago, this was due to the global downturn.
After speaking with over 50 companies this Week, we believe that the industry in Nigeria is on the up and we are keen to return to our previous sales levels.
What are you doing at SDI to ensure Technology transfer?
The UK and Scottish government are investing huge amounts of money in innovation.
As the world moves from shallow water fields into deeper water, engineering has had to be more complex, robust, precise and more efficient in the high temperature and high-pressure regime.
You can liken our new Subsea technology to NASA space technology, underwater.
SDI are facilitating knowledge and technology transfer from the universities and center of excellence into our companies. We want to bring this new technology to Nigeria.
Clean energy is the conversation in the world energy industry. Is Renewable energy a threat to Oil and Gas?
The UK and Scottish governments have a strategy to move from hydrocarbons to clean, green energy and we want to do this by 2040.e.g. Scotland, has a target that by 2030, all brand new cars in Scotland will be electric.
This has been driven by the global environmental crisis. Right now, we are investing a lot of money into wind, biomass and tidal renewables.
Renewables are not a threat to oil and gas because offshore wind requires offshore engineering to put the wind and tidal turbines in the middle of the sea. So, the skill set of the Oil and Gas in offshore engineering is being used for renewables.
Also, a lot of engineering skills currently being used for the Oil and Gas sector can be used in the future for renewables.
What are you doing at SDI to ensure there’s no recurrence of the low trade volume you recorded the last time?
We are introducing new technologies to where it was once difficult to produce in deeper water.
Our new technology will ensure that oil in difficult fields will continue to be recovered in the future in an economic and profitable manner. We want to deliver oil and gas at $40 per barrel where the supply chain makes profit.
Also, we are doing a lot to increase the confidence of our companies looking to do business in Nigeria.
We have met over 50 Nigerian companies who are bright, have an appetite to partner and are looking to embrace new technology. We will make connections with our Scottish companies to these world class Nigerian companies.
What are some of the investment opportunities in Scotland?
If a Nigerian company can come to set up a R&D hub in Scotland, there’s Scottish money for innovation if Scottish locals are hired. Also, Nigerian operators are welcome to buy licenses in the North Sea.
Where do you see SDI in Nigeria in the next 5 years?
We’ll continue to support our Scottish supply to come Nigeria over the next 5 years.
Right now, the perception is that Nigeria is a difficult market, but we can help break down these misconceptions. We brought 20 companies to Ghana in November 2018 while we could only bring 8 companies to Nigeria this week because the perception is that Ghana is easier to do business.
Our job is to tell them everything about Nigeria market entry so that they can develop a business plan to come together to invest in Nigeria, then they understand what they are getting into. It’s all about making connections, educating and reframing perceptions.