From the Chief Executive: 75 years of the EIC

In this month's 75th anniversary special edition of Energy Focus, we look back at the key industry events over the last seven and a half decades as well as look forward to what the future holds.

75 years of EIC logo
Stuart Broadley

On 25 February 1943 the EIC was born when 13 supply chain companies met in war-torn London.

While the Second World War was still ongoing, the tide did seem to be turning and an end at last seemed in sight. Sensing brighter days ahead, our founding members felt it was time to start looking to the future and the opportunities it might hold.

As forward-thinking and optimistic as they were, little could they have known just how much the UK and global energy industry would change over the next 75 years. Or the EIC for that matter.

When the EIC was launched, the UK was reliant on coal for power.

The 1950s and 60s saw a huge expansion of refineries in the UK, most of which used imported oil. That soon changed with the UK Continental Shelf Act coming into force in 1964, and the first UK offshore well being drilled the following year. The UK North Sea really ramping up from the mid-70s onwards.

The UK’s first nuclear power station, Calder Hall, now known as Sellafield, was opened in 1965, followed by a programme of ‘first generation’ reactors, very much establishing us as a world leader in this sector. Of course, latterly Hinckley Point C got the green light in 2016 and UK suppliers to this sector will be in great demand as a wave of nuclear new build gets underway around the world.

Likewise, the UK took an early lead in the development of renewable energy, with our first commercial onshore wind farm coming online in Cornwall just over 25 years ago, followed by its offshore counterpart, the Blyth wind farm, in 2000. We’ve proven to the world that this technology is economically feasible, with last year’s CfD auction prices coming in as low as £57.50/MWh and way ahead of schedule. With new innovations taking place and battery storage options addressing intermittency issues this sector is going to continue to grow at a rapid rate, and developers across the globe are looking to the UK for our expertise and experience.

As the landscape of the energy industry has evolved, so too have we. From membership originally comprising just over a dozen power equipment suppliers that wanted to diversify and export into the fast-growing oil and gas markets abroad, we now include more than 600 companies covering every energy sector: oil and gas, power, nuclear, and renewables.

And as the challenges and opportunities that face our members have changed, we’ve also updated our offering to make sure they’re in the best position possible whatever the markets have in store.

From starting out meeting once a year to discuss opportunities and share leads and contacts, we now hold over 130 events every year, and boast a whole suite of bespoke business development tools such as our flagship CAPEX and OPEX databases, EICDataStream and EICAssetMap.

Advances in technology are making the world smaller, and overseas markets are closer than they’ve ever been before. To make sure our members are able to make the most of the world of opportunity that’s out there, we’ve expanded our EIC Connect format to new locations worldwide, run export showcases with UK Export Finance, host the UK pavilion in partnership with the Department for International Trade at all major energy events, lead trade delegations across the globe and offer a low-cost, low-risk route to new markets through our EICLaunchPad service.

While we’ve come a long way since we started 75 years ago, some things haven’t changed.

I’m incredibly proud to say that four companies – three now incorporated into ABB, Cape and Siemens, and Motherwell Bridge still with its original name – have been with us since the very beginning. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their support over nearly eight decades.

Another thing that hasn’t changed since day one is our core objective, noted in the minutes of that very first meeting in London in 1943:

‘To primarily promote and develop the interests of all those engaged in, or concerned with, the supply of goods, services and finance to the oil and gas industry.’

And while our membership has grown to include organisations working in all energy sectors, we’ve stayed true to that original ambition, and whatever the future holds we’ll continue to put our members and their needs at the heart of everything we do.

Here’s to another incredible 75 years.

Stuart Broadley