The Sea of Lost Opportunity, Volume 7

1st Edition

North Sea Oil and Gas, British Industry and the Offshore Supplies Office

Print ISBN: 9780444536457
eBook ISBN: 9780444536464
Imprint: Elsevier
Published Date: 6th May 2011
Page Count: 320
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This book is a contribution to the history of a vital stage of UK technical and economic development, perhaps the most important since the Second World War. It shows, from an industrial viewpoint, how the British handled the exploitation of their most significant natural resource gain of the 20th century. Notwithstanding the nearly 30 years of government support through the Offshore Supplies Office, the UK has not reaped the full benefit of the North Sea discoveries; this book attempts to explain why. It will assist governments and industries faced with future instances of unforeseen, specialist and large-scale new demand to manage their reactions more effectively. It also throws light on how governments can pursue strategic industrial objectives while leaving market mechanisms to function with minimal interference, something some administrations – perhaps even the British – may wish to do now or in the future.

Key Features

  • Covers the entire period from the first well offshore Britain until the dismantling of the specific British industrial policy measures for offshore supplies
  • Based in large measure upon archives not previously accessed and the private testimony/papers of participants
  • 'Drills down' to the level of individual company decisions through case study and other material
  • The only properly researched description of how the world’s first major local content initiative developed


Public sector policy makers, business strategists, academics in fields of economics/industrial history, energy economics and business.

Table of Contents

  • Series Editors
  • Dedication
  • List of Tables
  • List of Charts
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgements

    • Publisher Summary
  • Preface

    • Publisher Summary
  • Chapter 1. In Europe’s Sick Bay: Britain before North Sea Oil

    • Abstract
    • 1.1 The british balance of payments problem
    • 1.2 Oil and the balance of payments
    • 1.3 British economic and industrial decline
    • 1.4 An insufficient inheritance: the british oilfield supply industry
    • References
  • Chapter 2. The Genesis of the North Sea Oil and Gas Industry

    • Abstract
    • 2.1 The move to the north sea
    • 2.2 The technological ‘state of the art’
    • 2.3 The united kingdom position
    • 2.4 Potential european competitors
    • 2.5 Perceptions of the ukcs hydrocarbon resource base
    • 2.6 The new technical challenges of the north sea
    • References
  • Chapter 3. Motivations and Constraints

    • Abstract
    • 3.1 The exploration and production companies
    • 3.2 The british government
    • 3.3 British industry
    • 3.4 Finance
    • References
  • Chapter 4. Before OSO: Offshore Supplies 1963–1972

    • Abstract
    • 4.1 Oil company attitudes to british suppliers
    • 4.2 Government attitudes to british suppliers
    • 4.3 The imeg report
    • 4.4 An assessment of the period
    • References
  • Chapter 5. OSO’s Formative Years 1973–1980

    • Abstract
    • 5.1 The course of demand
    • 5.2 OSO operations in context
    • 5.3 OSO and the machinery of government
    • 5.4 Some key OSO issues of the period
    • 5.5 The supply industry
    • References
  • Chapter 6. OSO’s Long March into History 1981–1993

    • Abstract
    • 6.1 The course of


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© Elsevier 2011
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"Meticulously researched, the author draws on extensive reference list, of both published and unpublished sources, and includes testimonies from key participants within the industry in order to drill down to the level of individual company decisions…this book represents an important contribution in the quest to uncover the complex and opaque relationships that existed during the time period under consideration."--Scottish Business and Industrial History, page 106-107
"This is an impressive work…extremely well researched book, using not only published and archived sources from government, oil industry, and the business community, but also his own working knowledge…This book should be essential reading for anyone concerned with the UK’s energy problems or questions of industrial policy. It provides much insight into the complex and every present interplay of business interests and political policy making."--Oriel College Record, 2012, page 76
"absolutely gripping – a real tour de force" Sir Derek Morris, Provost of Oriel College, Oxford and former Chairman of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission
"Turning to the Sea of Lost Opportunity, this book is highly relevant to the Britain, of today…deeply stressed and seemingly unable to pull itself out of what has become an horrendous economic mire ...... a must-read for anyone who is hungry to learn about the industry that grew to become our greatest success story in a very long time."
--The Press and Journal (Aberdeen)
"Smith explains why 25 years of government support through the OSO did not produce greater benefit for the UK. He seeks to show how governments and industries might more effectively manage new demands and ‘pursue strategic industrial objectives while leaving market mechanisms to function with minimal interference’. These objectives have application to Australia, not least in our equally open a