With political unrest and market turbulence seemingly behind us, 2020 was meant to herald a period of relative calm, meaning firms would be able to enact both short and longer-term occupational strategies. Aberdeen City Council’s programme of building upgrades, improving IT infrastructure and attracting businesses back into the city centre were gaining traction. Furthermore, with the price of oil stabilising, associated companies were advancing plans on new investment. However, the global spread of Covid-19 and the containment measures imposed, quickly reversed optimism, altered business focus and hindered transactional ability.
Whilst 2019 recorded the commencement of several new oil fields, 2020 was characterised by the deferral of development projects. Confidence and market conditions, however, have since improved buoyed by the ongoing rollout of vaccines and an improving economic outlook. Moreover, the global oil inventory drawdown has resulted in Brent Crude Oil pricing to increase to circa $65/bbl at the time of writing, justifying new investment planning in the North East oil sector for 2021 onwards.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives are rising on the agenda, with energy companies required to create a strategy on decarbonisation and reshaping their businesses for the future. The pandemic has accelerated a number of technology advances that will enable restructuring. With a greater focus on reducing emissions also, opportunities in wind, carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and hydrogen will continue to grow. A continuing shift in market structure is expected, with the newer breed of oil companies expanding their operations through acquisition of assets, mergers and takeovers.
The role of the built environment is changing. Owners and operators are increasingly embracing new demand to provide flexibility in leasing and occupational cost structures, whilst designing attractive and green spaces for workers.