North Sea oil sector could be ‘world training hub’

SCOTLAND’S beleaguered oil and gas industry could re-invent itself as a “world leading” training hub as it seeks new outlets for its skilled staff amid the oil price slump.

Turning staff into teaching experts could be an answer to potential job losses. Picture: Hemedia

A Scottish Enterprise survey of senior global industry figures shows that 74 per cent believed Scotland was one of the world’s leading training grounds for the industry, with 71 per cent agreeing that Scottish employees are some of the most dependable in the sector.

The research looked at the views of more than 260 senior industry leaders from businesses employing approximately 2.2 million people across the globe.

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It comes after trade body Oil & Gas UK revealed that investment in the North Sea is expected to plummet this year as escalating costs of extraction and the sharply lower price of Brent Crude render projects uneconomical.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed Scottish Enterprise’s findings, saying: “This poll comes at a time of change for the global energy sector.

“Turbulence in the oil markets is leading to some uncertainty about future work flows, but these results reinforce the value that Scottish businesses deliver to partners, particularly in deepwater and offshore exploration areas.”

Sturgeon added that decades of innovation cultivated in the North Sea are already being deployed globally and transferred to new and emerging exploration and production locations around the world, such as West Africa.

“Our objective is to make clear that Scotland’s oil and gas wealth is not just in the resources that we extract, but the expertise that we have built up,” she said. “We are working with the industry to continue to strengthen Scotland’s position as a global leader in the sector and these figures mark further growth in this important part of our economy.”

David Rennie, head of the international oil and gas sector at Scottish Enterprise, added: “This research quantifies what we’ve long known and heard – that Scotland has a world-leading reputation when it comes to developing skills and experience in the oil and gas industry.

“The opportunity is therefore for Scotland to further build on the strengths we know we have when it comes to career development and progression, and use them to tap into more opportunities for both our people and our oil & gas supply chain at a global level.”

The publication of Scottish Enterprise’s survey follows figures showing that North Sea oil revenues plunged to their lowest level since 1998 last year, according to an industry survey that painted a “bleak picture” of the sector and warns that vast areas of the basin could be “sterilised” by a lack of investment.

Oil & Gas UK’s report found that firms operating in British waters suffered a combined negative cash-flow of £5.3bn in 2014, the worst since the 1970s.

The survey also predicted that investment is set to collapse in the coming years as oil firms slash their expenditure in the face of the lower price of Brent. It is expected to fall by around a third this year, to as little as £9.5bn.