Employment boom predicted for North Sea oil and gas sector


   By Lynda Williamson

The North East looks set for an employment boom according to analysis commissioned by OilandGasPeople.com, which foresees the creation of up to 50,000 jobs in the North Sea oil and gas industry.

The prediction comes on the back of record breaking levels of investment in the sector which will see some £40 billion ploughed into North Sea production over the next three years.  The UK Government has awarded 167 new licences on 330 blocks, as well as relaxing the tax regime, in a bid to boost the industry.

Norwegian Company Statoil, which is part owned by the Norwegian Government, last month announced its investment of £4.3 billion in the Mariner Field, east of Shetland.  This is the biggest investment in the last decade and will see the creation of approximately 700 jobs.  The field is expected to produce oil for the next 30 years.

There was further good news when it emerged that Babcock’s Rosyth plant will also see increases in employment after the firm won a £30 million contract to build subsea equipment to be used in drilling operations in the North Atlantic.  Babcock will manufacture 74 subsea structures creating 100 new jobs with further opportunities in training and development.

The company, which has benefitted from Royal Navy contracts in recent years, is increasingly looking to the hydrocarbon and potentially lucrative renewables sectors as the UK government scales back on MoD spending.

Commenting on the contract, Mike Pettigrew, Babcock’s managing director for future business said: “This is a multifaceted technical programme which will sustain over 100 positions and provide training and development opportunities here at Rosyth.  In addition, we will continue to involve our apprentices in exciting and specialised areas of our operations, strengthening the skills base of our next generation of engineers.”

The contract forms part of a larger redevelopment of the Schiehallion and Loyal fields which should extend the life of the fields through to 2035 and enable the recovery of an extra 450 million barrels of oil.

The boost in investment will see UK employment in North Sea industries approach the half a million mark.

Kevin Forbes, the chief executive of OilandGasPeople.com, a leading recruitment agency for the industry, said:

“There’s been a lot of talk about the North Sea being in decline but employment is booming at the moment.

“Decommissioning projects are taking off as they come to the end of their life.  At the same time, the consistently high oil price, tax changes and new technology have made it economically viable to extend the life of existing projects and start new ones.”

The demand for skilled workers in the oil and gas sector has put pressure on wages with the average salary of £64,000 already more than twice that of the national average which stands at £25,500.  Employers are finding that they need to offer higher and higher wages in order to attract the skilled workers that they need.

Ms Watt, SNP MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, claimed that the news was further evidence that Scotland would be wealthier as an independent country.

She said: “The forecast of a jobs boom highlights a very bright future for the oil and gas industry – and a positive knock on effect for Scotland’s economy which we hear just today is in ‘growth mode’ and outperforming the UK economy.

“North Sea oil is a tremendous asset with vast untapped reserves worth up to £1.5 trillion which will help an independent Scotland to prosper and become a wealthier and fairer nation.

“Instead of being squandered as they have been by successive Westminster Governments – whether Tory or Labour – we need the powers of an independent Scotland to ensure that oil and gas resources work for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

“The anti-independence parties have been saying that the oil and gas is running out since the early years of production in the 1970s – and the reality now is that more than half of the revenues are still to come.”