Study says North Sea oil and gas companies set to grow

A new study has revealed a boom in oil and gas activity is on the horizon with more than 80 per cent of North Sea companies surveyed expecting to grow their business over the next five years.

Pan-industry research commissioned by OPITO and supplemented by a parallel study undertaken by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) found that 90 per cent of companies are anticipating a rise in international activity.

A further 67 per cent expect to see growth as a result of decommissioning and 63 per cent anticipate a rise activity in relation to wind power.

However, more than 50 per cent said attracting appropriately skilled staff was the number-one challenge to their ability to deliver their project opportunities.

Conducted by Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, the study found that demand for appropriately skilled or experienced staff continues to outstrip supply however with vacancies for engineers (graduate and chartered) and managers the hardest to fill.

More than 110 companies spanning the construction, drilling, engineering, geoscience, marine, science, inspection and operations sectors contributed. The majority are anticipating growth in the workforce in the next five years with 12 per cent expecting to take on more than 50 people in the next 12 months and five per cent looking to recruit more than 200 in the same period.

OPITO managing director David Binnie said: ‘Capital spend on existing sanctioned projects will increase to £22bn over the next five years, potentially rising to £40bn. This expenditure is targeted around 33 new platforms, 12 major asset modifications and 40 subsea tie-backs.

‘This is without a doubt a startling set of opportunities and our estimates suggest that more than 15,000 new posts will be required over the next five years to deliver these project plans. Meeting that challenge and increasing the supply pool of experienced talent is critical if we are to avoid inter-company competition, costs inflation and the delay or cancellation of projects.

‘This study will help us to better aggregate skills demand, identify common clusters of needs and articulate these more clearly to academia and funding agencies.’

David Edwards, chief executive of ECITB said: ‘The UK needs more technicians, apprentices and engineers to transform our energy infrastructure. A good start has been made, but the rate of recruitment and training needs to double within the next five years to meet the strategic demand.

‘The ECITB and OPITO are working together to make the industry as desirable as possible for appropriately skilled and experienced staff. A strong engineering construction industry is essential for delivering the transformation our energy infrastructure needs; from oil and gas to renewable energy, securing our energy future.’