Offshore supply vessels resembling large, floating flat-backed trucks fill Victoria Dock, unable to find charters in a sign of the downturn in Britain's oil industry. With UK North Sea oil and gas production 44 percent below its peak, self-styled oil capital of Europe Aberdeen fears the slowdown is not simply cyclical. The oil industry that at one stage sparked talk of Scotland as "the Kuwait of the West" has already outlived most predictions. Tourism, life sciences, and the export of oil services around the world
are among Aberdeen's targeted substitutes for North sea oil and gas --but for many the biggest prize would be to use its offshore oil expertise to build a renewable energy industry as big as oil. The city aims to use its experience to become a leader in offshore wind, tidal power and carbon dioxide capture and storage. Alex Salmond, head of the devolved Scottish government, told a conference in Aberdeen last month the market for wind power could be worth 130 billion pounds, while Scotland could be the "Saudi Arabia of tidal power." "We're seeing the emergence of an offshore energy market that is comparable in scale to the market we've seen in offshore oil and gas in the last 40 years," he said. Another area of focus, tourism, has previously been hindered by the presence of oil. Eager to put Aberdeen on the international tourist map, local business has strongly backed a plan by U.S. real estate tycoon Donald Trump for a luxury housing and golf project 12 km (8 miles) north of the city, even though it means building on a nature reserve. The city also hopes to reorientate its vibrant oil services industry toward emerging offshore oil centers such as Brazil. "Just because the production in the North Sea starts to decline doesn't mean that Aberdeen
as a global center also declines," said Robert Collier, Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive. "That expertise can still stay here and be exported around the world."