UK oil and gas workers considering jobs abroad

The North Sea oil industry has been hit by falling prices. Picture: Getty

The North Sea oil industry has been hit by falling prices. Picture: Getty

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ALMOST three-quarters of oil and gas workers are considering looking for work outside the UK because the North Sea industry continues to suffer from plunging oil prices, according to a survey.

The research by industry website Rigzone found 71 per cent of respondents across the UK are thinking about a move overseas, with a lack of job security cited as the main reason by those working in Scotland and the North Sea.

“This could exacerbate issues with recruitment”

Mark Guest

More than half (52 per cent) of Scotland-based respondents reported a lack of confidence in their career prospects over the next five years.

Mark Guest, international managing director of Rigzone, said: “Oil and gas professionals are highly mobile.

“If assurances cannot be given by the industry about the mid to long-term career opportunities in the UK’s offshore market, our survey indicates that many professionals may simply look for work elsewhere. This could exacerbate recruitment issues in the sector at a time when the industry has already highlighted a shortage of engineering students graduating from British universities.”

The survey also found that 45 per cent of people working in the industry in Scotland, and 44 per cent of those working elsewhere in the UK, have little confidence in the ability of tax cuts that were announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the Budget last month to stimulate more investment in the North Sea.

The UK government’s £1.3 billion package of support for the sector includes a cut to the “supplementary charge” on oil industry companies’ profits from 30 per cent to 20 per cent and a reduction in petroleum revenue tax from 50 per cent to 35 per cent next year.

A tax allowance is to be introduced to stimulate investment in the North Sea oil and gas industry alongside a £20 million fund for new surveys of the UK continental shelf, aimed at boosting exploration.

The survey of 963 oil and gas professionals across the UK found only 17 per cent believe the initiatives will be enough to stimulate meaningful investment in North Sea exploration over the next five years, with 38 per cent undecided.

A majority of Scotland-based respondents (67 per cent) said a return to stable oil prices was more important than government policy to boost UK offshore reserves.

Jake Molloy, regional organiser for the RMT union, said the industry must work to keep skilled employees, warning their loss would endanger the health and safety of offshore workers.

He added: “Companies must work at managing this difficult downturn during the reduction in oil prices because the situation will approve again.

“If we lose the seasoned ­experts, then the industry will suffer.”

CASE STUDY

Scots engineer forced to seek work in Africa and Asia

OIL industry engineer Neil Munro, 48, of Aberdeenshire, is being forced to seek work abroad as jobs are becoming so scarce in the UK.

The married father-of-three, who will become redundant in the summer, said: “The timing couldn’t be worse, with the oil price drop and oil companies following their typical knee-jerk short-term boom-and-bust strategies and cutting projects and workforce numbers.

“Six months ago there were plenty of jobs out there; now there is very little.

“I have no doubts I will end up abroad, and have been actively looking at Africa and Asia.

“It is difficult finding a job in Aberdeen, so I will probably end up abroad.

“At present there are a couple of jobs in Aberdeen and the North Sea that I am trying for, but no doubt so will many others, so I need to look further afield in order to hopefully find a job and pay the mortgage.

“No doubt in six to 12 months’ time, the oil price will pick up and for a while there will be a shortage of people to meet the demand, and projects which could have continued now will suffer delays.”

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