FUND management heavyweight Martin Gilbert has been appointed chairman of the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, which aims to help the sector respond to the challenges posed by the crude price plunge and climate change.

Mr Gilbert is expected to play an important role at the centre at what it described as a pivotal time for the industry after becoming one of Scotland’s most influential financial services industry figures.

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Mr Gilbert led the Aberdeen Asset Management business he co-founded in 1983 to a £11bn merger with Standard Life in 2017. He is deputy chairman of the Standard Life Aberdeen business created through the merger.

He joins OGTC as firms in the North Sea face the prospect of a long downturn following the slump in commodity prices triggered by the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Many are looking at ways of trying to capitalise on opportunities to harness their expertise to win work in areas such as offshore wind and of reducing the emissions associated with production of oil and gas.

Welcoming Mr Gilbert’s appointment, OGTC chief executive Colette Cohen said: “His extensive experience and strategic leadership will be invaluable as we accelerate technology to support the post-Covid-19 recovery and deliver a net zero North Sea.”

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Mr Gilbert said the Aberdeen-based OGTC has a crucial role in developing technologies to enable the oil and gas sector to be a valued part of the transition to a lower carbon energy system.

“Aberdeen has been a major part of my life – both professionally and personally – and I am passionate about investing in the future prosperity of the North East of Scotland,” said Mr Gilbert.

The centre was founded in 2017 to help the North Sea industry recover from the deep downturn triggered by the sharp fall in the crude price from 2014 to 2016.

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Its work involves helping to encourage the development of technologies that can help to tackle key challenges such as how to improve the economics of marginal fields. It said it has invested in nearly 250 innovative projects that could generate up to £15 billion in value to the UK economy.

Mr Gilbert succeeds Archie Kennedy, who has been on the OGTC board since the organisation’s inception.