April 4, 2014 10:07 am

UK oil and gas sector eyes 39,000 new jobs

A section of the BP Eastern Trough Area Project (ETAP) oil platform is seen in the North Sea, around 100 miles east of Aberdeen in Scotland February 24, 2014. Britain urgently needs its oil and gas companies to pay for a new regulatory body to encourage industry collaboration and counter plunging North Sea production rates, a government review, the first since the mid-1990s, said on Monday. REUTERS/Andy Buchanan/pool (BRITAIN - Tags: ENERGY POLITICS BUSINESS)©Reuters

The oil and gas sector has the potential to create 39,000 new jobs in the UK over the next two years, underlining continuing optimism in the industry but heightening worries about a skills shortage, a report by the Bank of Scotland survey has found.

The bank’s third annual survey of 100 UK oil and gas companies suggested the sector’s expectations for job creation had increased by around 5,000 from 2013.

The report will fuel expectations of continued boom in centres of oil sector activity despite some concerns about declining investment in exploration in ageing North Sea fields.

“With most of the UK’s oil and gas firms clustered in Aberdeen and the northeast, Scotland should reap the largest share of these new jobs, however other parts of the UK will benefit from expansion plans,” said Stuart White, Bank of Scotland commercial area director.

The survey found 69 per cent of UK oil and gas executives were confident about their companies’ growth prospects for 2014-2015, slightly down from the 77 per cent recorded last year.

The demand for new employees will exacerbate shortages of skilled workers in the sector.

Bank of Scotland said 38 per cent of surveyed companies saw a skill shortage as the greatest challenge they were facing over the next two years, up from 33 per cent last year. Nearly 90 per cent of engineering companies said a lack of skilled workers was their greatest challenge.

The report was welcomed by the Scottish National party, which has made expectations of a continuing oil boom a central plank of its economic case for an independent Scotland.

“These findings showing that a job boom – even greater than previously expected – is predicted for the oil and gas sector in Scotland and serves as a major vote of confidence for the massive value of Scotland’s vast natural assets,” said Maureen Watt, SNP member of the Scottish parliament for Aberdeen South.

With output from the North Sea expected to decline in coming decades, UK oil and gas firms are pushing to expand overseas.

The Bank of Scotland survey found that international income accounted for 44 per cent of turnover at surveyed companies and almost half of exploration and production companies were planning further growth in foreign markets in the next 24 months.

International expansion was a priority for 64 per cent of surveyed companies. Africa was the most popular destination, being the priority market for 21 per cent, compared with 18 per cent for the Middle East and 17 per cent for North America. 

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