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UK trade mission visit

WHILE a few dozen additional tourists may not raise the temperature of the local tourism scene, the largest trade mission in WA for 50 years is making a mark in one industry this week.

Eighty British companies are in town, all looking to do business in the local oil and gas scene.

Unfortunately, most will miss Development Minister Clive Brown, who is in Europe talking with Uhde GmbH, a partner in the proposed Burrup Dampier Nitrogen project, and to gas-to-liquids North West hopefuls GTL Resources and Sasol Chevron.

Ironically, the visitors are here hoping to support upstream ventures, such as those essential to the considerable gas-processing projects WA wants to secure.

Some are looking to establish regional headquarters in Perth and others are hoping to cement joint venture relationships.

First-timers are getting a feel for the extent of service support and the size of the market, and experiencing autumn in a far different clime.

Several – including asset integrity management company CorrOcean, engineering solutions group Circle Technical Services, waste solutions firm North Sea Compactors, safety equipment supplier Jo Bird & Co, and Welding Units – already have subsidiary offices, local representatives or agents here.

Almost 30 of the visiting companies from the Northern Offshore Federation Export Club and Scottish Development International are promoting UK technology and expertise at the Austral-Asian Oil & Gas industry exhibition.

One exhibitor, Prosafe Offshore, has recently provided a semi-submersible offshore support vessel to the Bayu Undan gas recycling project.

Capable of accommodating up to 550 personnel, this vessel is expected to be operational in the Timor Sea next month.

Other visitors to Perth include survey and inspection suppliers, subsea cable manufacturers, hydraulic control system specialists, electrical enclosures designers, supply chain facilitators, hydrodynamic software suppliers, environmental and discharge solutions providers, pipeline communications designers, and thermo-plastics and polymers engineers.

Consultant and project management services companies are also here to expand their influence, while the Resource Centre for Innovation in Design hopes to identify research and analysis partners.

Based at the University of Newcastle (upon Tyne), the RCID may set up in Perth or exchange personnel with a partner to investigate, among other things, time zone and cultural issues associated with managing dispersed working teams.

Mr Brown’s European tour was essentially to promote WA’s information communications technology industry, and to attend a major communications conference, highlighting the diversity of WA’s trade and development links with the Northern Hemisphere.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy director David Parker said the visit highlighted the level of interest in WA’s oil and gas sector.

"These are mature, established and sophisticated operators, with a lot to offer in alliances and partnerships," he said.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association director WA and NT, Don Sanders, said the expertise shared between the British and Australian industries in seminars and meetings this week would be invaluable.

Some delegates would attend next week’s annual APPEA conference in Melbourne.

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