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Oil and gas next in line for 'Business Olympics' gold rush

Amec has landed a £60 million contract as the government champions the energy sector during the Olympic Games, with a spate of investment announced.

GDF Suez, in partnership with Centria and Bayerngas, yesterday signed a £1.4 billion field development plan at a ceremony with energy secretary Ed Davey, to develop the largest gas discovery in the Southern North Sea in 25 years.

BP also announced it will invest £60m to build an International Centre for Advanced Materials at the University of Manchester, while Italian chemical producer Versalis will invest between €50m (£39.7m) and €60m (£47.7m) in its Grangemouth site in Scotland to expand capacity.

Initial contracts for the North Sea gas project - known as Cygnus - are worth £175m, most of which will be invested in the UK creating 1,200 local jobs. Engineering and project management firm AMEC has already bagged a £60m detailed design contract on the project.

AMEC’s design work is scheduled for completion in 2014, and is expected to create 200 new jobs at peak.

The reservoirs are expected to generate around 5 per cent of total UK gas production, with the first gas being produced in 2015.

The announcements have been neatly timed to coincide with the Energy Global Business Summit – one of 18 summits to promote British business during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

BP’s ICAM centre will support the science and engineering applications of advanced materials, with the University of Manchester acting as a ‘hub’ and other universities in the world providing the ‘spokes’.

The firm hopes to develop structural materials, such as new metal alloys and composites, and smart coatings to protect structures and pipelines from corrosion.

Versalis, meanwhile, expects to create seven extra jobs within contracting companies who supply services for the Grangemouth site, as well as developing and expanding the site.

The summit aims to tout British expertise in the energy sector, including in project management, major contracting, design engineering, asset and operational management, and design and manufacturing of advanced equipment. Yesterday’s summit focused on low carbon investment.

On the agenda at today’s summit are technology-related issues for regulatory and market reforms, as well as financing needs, deployment challenges and scaling up industrial capacity.

Chancellor George Osborne called the summit “a demonstration of how the UK can lead the world in the energy sector: securing investment, creating jobs and building a more prosperous future”.

“The government is committed to creating an environment in which innovation can thrive and businesses can grow: that’s why top businesses such as BP are investing in the UK and supporting our world-leading universities in delivering cutting edge research.”

BP group chief executive Bob Dudley said the Manchester deal “should allow us to change the way we build, operate and maintain our equipment; manufacture cleaner and more efficient products; develop imaginative energy sources and then store that energy for when it is needed most; and increase the use of lighter metals and composites for structures and products”.

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