The Western Isles Oil Group, set up in the late ’80s by private businesses in the Outer Hebrides and supported by public authorities to promote these businesses and the islands to the oil industry to expand job opportunities in the Western Isles, has come to an end.
Lewis Offshore Ltd, the biggest of the group which included Stornoway Port Authority, Stornoway Airport, Stornoway Trust and up to a further 36 members led the group in its many successful marketing efforts both in Scotland and in Norway.
It allowed Lewis Offshore, which had the greatest expertise in the group, to market to the industry, not only its own unique top class facilities and workforce but also, the combined supportive infrastructure of businesses and public authorities in the Western Isles as a complete package.
By dint of these efforts the Group was able to enhance Lewis Offshore’s profile in the industry, gain contracts and increase jobs, not only at the Arnish base but also, elsewhere in the islands. The
Group was successful in attracting big name oil companies like Conoco and Philips to utilise Outer Hebrides facilities, particularly Stornoway Port and Airport.
It developed excellent relations with oil companies, facilitating business relationships between oil related companies and Western Isles businesses. It provided businesses and authorities quality information on which to base infrastructure and investment decisions.
With the demise of Lewis Offshore the Group’s focus altered towards co-operating with other businesses and agencies to attempt to maximise benefits for local businesses from prospective alternative energy projects which were being discussed in the ‘90’s.
Eventually as a variety of these projects either developed or were dropped there was not the same need for the combined expertise embodied in the Oil Group and it was decided at a recent winding up meeting to donate the remaining group funds of £5,800 to the Lews Castle College/University of the Highlands and Islands to be utilised to develop a new engineering module to improve the current course and maximise the benefit to a greater number of students.
The Western Isles Oil Group hopes that the College will benefit from this donation and that a student will be able to use the Group’s archives to chart its progress and record the part it played in the economy of the islands over the decades.