A word from our Chairman

From acorn to oak tree; As the EIC celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, retiring Chairman Hugh Saville looks at FIVE factors that have led to the exponential growth of the leading energy trade association during the past 25 years

1. Data

High quality project data has increased greatly in volume, coverage and quality.

In the late 1990s, such information was gathered and shared with members via four ‘committees’ – UK, European, Overseas and Power. Open to member company representatives, these met quarterly to review and update paper copies of project lists. The quantity of information varied, with the Overseas committee having more than 250 pages of projects listed by country. Data was sourced primarily from international engineering contractors, many with a UK base at the time, supplemented by information gleaned from members and publications.

In 2001, Alan Lewendon and Bob Gear joined EIC and, soon afterwards, Alan suggested moving the paper-based project information to an electronic format, enabling easier interrogation and addition of data. Alan christened the new product ‘EICDataStream’ and Bob applied his IT talents to develop the process, with many subsequent iterations to follow. That was the catalyst for a broad range of increasingly sophisticated electronic business information services that are now both routine and highly advanced.

2. Communication

Twenty-five years ago, communication was achieved principally by post, landline telephone and fax. The internet was in its infancy (EIC’s first website appeared in 1999) and email only superseded fax in the early years of the millennium. These new developments had a significant impact on EIC communications, as information could now be sent instantaneously to members and other contacts globally. Suddenly communication had become much easier and faster, and EIC capitalised on that.

3. Global coverage

EIC has moved from a London-based operation with a Houston office (opened in 1995) to a global presence. Offices opened in Rio, Singapore (subsequently closed in favour of Kuala Lumpur) and Dubai (chosen over Abu Dhabi because of better availability of international flights from Dubai at the time). Offices in Macaé (Brazil) and Beijing existed briefly, while others considered for Calgary, Moscow, Venezuela and Hamburg did not materialise. Domestically, offices opened in Aberdeen and Teesside (but subsequently closed).

4. Membership

The EIC’s decision in 2017 to expand membership to companies outside the UK (unthinkable even 10 years ago!) has been absolutely crucial in generating many new memberships and by raising our profile. Compared with 25 years ago, our international connections are now immeasurably better.

5. Market changes

The UK energy industry has changed significantly during the past 25 years. Initially, many international engineering companies had a UK operation, but due to acquisition, restructuring into other areas, or moving away, many no longer exist here, including MW Kellogg, Stone and Webster, Foster Wheeler, Costain Oil and Gas, Simon Carves and Tractebel.

These companies (and others) routinely generated a range of engineering studies and EPC contracts – providing EIC member companies with significant sales opportunities. Simultaneously, as ‘mega plants’ started operating in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere, the UK refining and petrochemical industries contracted, while in the power sector, supply of flue gas desulphurisation plants for large coal-fired power stations dried up.

The EIC acorn has indeed grown into a mighty oak tree that continues to spread its branches into new markets and opportunities across the globe.

Hugh Saville Chairman, Energy Industries Council

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