THE NORTH Sea oil industry is set for a jobs boom this year, as record investment on the back of the latest licensing round means up to 50,000 posts will be created.
The latest forecast for the UK’s oil and gas sector from recruitment website Oilandgaspeople.com says tax breaks introduced last year and rules allowing firms to look for shale gas will also contribute to the bonanza – but also risks worsening a “serious” shortage of skilled workers.
It said investment in the industry, of which Aberdeen is the biggest hub, is at record-breaking levels, with more than £40 billion expected to be spent in the next three years.
The report, published today, predicts that between 40,000 to 50,000 jobs will be created in 2013 as the “unprecedented growth” already being experienced continues.
Kevin Forbes, chief executive of Oilandgaspeople.com, said: “In the last few months alone in the UK Statoil, announced a £4.3bn investment into North Sea oil creating over 700 jobs, a £1bn project to develop the Harris and Barra oilfields was announced, as well as another billion pound investment by a joint venture from Canadian-based Talisman Energy and Chinese company Sinopec.
“Large projects backed by BP to the west of Shetland are already under way, and Total’s new terminal project is in full swing. There are too many new projects to mention and from our own industry knowledge we expect more big announcements in 2013.”
Forbes said demand for qualified staff is set to reach an all-time high, exacerbating an already serious skills shortage.
Wages in the oil and gas sector have already soared to more than twice the national average as companies desperately try to retain workers and poach staff from rivals, according to recent surveys of the jobs market in the industry.
The shortage of suitably qualified and experienced candidates is being further exacerbated as UK workers head abroad to earn even higher wages in rival oil hubs. Oilandgaspeople.com’s forecast found that other areas of the world are also increasing investment in oil exploration. The US is seeing increased investment following the Macondo oil spill, with Australia, Brazil, Canada and Iraq all seeing record levels of investment and demand for qualified staff.
In Britain, one of the drivers for investment has been the number of exploration and production licences granted by the UK government. With some decisions still pending, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said in October that its 27th licensing round had been its biggest yet, with 167 licences awarded on 330 North Sea blocks.
Changes to tax rules in 2012 have also resulted in billions of pounds of investment in North Sea oil, and the industry is preparing for a new wave of land-based exploration after the controversial process of “fracking” for shale gas was given the go-ahead by ministers in December.
• A US shale gas minnow will be the first oil and gas firm to float in London this year when its shares go on sale on Aim today. Northcote Energy, which raised £1 million at 1p per share, has producing assets in Oklahoma.