More than 34,000 jobs will be created in the oil and gas sector in Scotland over the next two years, according to a major report looking at the future on the industry.
The study found that Scottish oil and gas firms are more likely to expect growth than those south of the Border – with 83 per cent expecting to see more business.
Scottish firms were more “expansionist” than English companies, it said, and were more likely to embrace diversification.
Lloyds Banking Group, which published the report, entitled Oil & Gas: Rising Fortunes 2, claimed this growth would translate to more than 34,000 jobs when applied to the entire sector and related businesses.
The survey found 21 per cent of English firms were interested in diversification, compared with 39 per cent in Scotland.
The report says 33 per cent of firms asked about the future believe a shortage of skills was the biggest challenge they face.
In response, half of firms said they wanted to train existing staff, a quarter wanted to work with universities and 23 per cent said they were looking to apprenticeship schemes.
The Lloyds survey follows a report last month from the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasting a fall in revenues by as much as 17 per cent by 2017-18. A second February study, from PricewaterhouseCoopers, said Scotland was sitting on up to £5 billion in natural gas from fracking. According to today’s report, 21 per cent of Scottish firms in the sector are looking at that area.
Stuart White, area director of Lloyds Bank’s commercial banking in the north of Scotland said: “This is good news for the UK economy and north-east Scotland, in particular, where there is a concentration of oil and gas companies.”
The Scottish Government welcomed the Lloyds report and said the North Sea’s reserves would make the sector a leading resource for decades to come.
A spokesman said: “We are proud of the success of the oil and gas sector, which stems from the skills and expertise of the 200,000 people and the 2,000 companies working in it.
“The Scottish Government’s oil and gas strategy, developed in conjunction with industry, lays out a plan to help the industry go from strength to strength, and rising capital investment – expected to rise from £11.4bn in 2012 to at least £13bn in 2013 – demonstrates the confidence investors and the industry have in Scotland.”
However, a Scottish Green Party spokesman said: “The conflicting predictions about the North Sea’s volatile fossil fuel future highlight the need to focus on Scotland’s undoubted clean energy potential.
“By promoting investment in renewables we will have the skills that are needed to sustain employment that supports our commitment to reduce carbon emissions.”