More than 100 businesses have signed up to an online portal to bid for work should the controversial shale gas industry be given the go-ahead on the Fylde.
The portal, set up by the Lancashire Chambers of Commerce in partnership with energy company Cuadrilla, had only been live for three hours before the 100 statements of interest mark was passed.
Its aim is to provide local firms with a place to register interest in becoming a member of the supply chain for the new industry, should it get the go ahead.
The chambers are calling for all local businesses who are interested to register so they can find out about their capabilities.
Details of local companies will be made available to tier one suppliers, such as drilling contractors and hydraulic fracturing service providers.
The portal can be accessed at www.shalegaslancashire.co.uk. Babs Murphy from the North and Western Lancashire Chamber said: “If the local supply chain waits for the industry to gear up fully, opportunities are lost and the contracts go to other parts of the county or abroad where the expertise exists.
“Cuadrilla has already demonstrated a firm commitment to buying local with recent procurement decisions and the portal will take the involvement of local companies with the shale gas opportunity to the next level.”
Lee Petts, chief executive of the Onshore Energy Services Group, welcomed the news. He said: “When the OESG was launched in December last year, we called on industry to provide potential supply chain partners, and smaller companies in particular, with a greater level of project visibility so that they could better prepare for the contracting opportunities that might arise.
“This online portal, developed by the Chambers of Commerce in conjunction with Cuadrilla Resources, is a very welcome first step and could become a blueprint for how the onshore oil and gas industry engages with local suppliers in the future.
“We’d like to see these smaller companies, with the right capabilities, prioritised for supply chain roles and given appropriate support to help them secure the work and create jobs for local people.”
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: “The supply chain website is a vital engagement tool for Lancashire business, and this was demonstrated by the 100 plus registrations we received within the first three hours of opening.
“Cuadrilla is committed to local sourcing, and recognises the advantages of using SMEs in the area.”