Energy service giant Weatherford unveiled plans yesterday to invest £11million in its technology and training centre at Bridge of Don, in Aberdeen.
The company anticipates that 25 jobs will be created by expanding the facility, which is expected to deliver training to 6,000 people annually – more than double the current number – within two years.
Weatherford’s latest announcement takes the total sum being invested in its Aberdeen operations to £40million.
In addition, the Houston-based group is spending £29million on developments at Altens and Dyce.
Weatherford said the Bridge of Don site alone would contribute £3-£5million to the local economy each year through spending from its trainees.
Training-centre general manager George Fairweather said the firm aimed to have the extra facilities, which will be also be used by employees of other companies through oil and gas industry collaboration, fully operational by December 2009.
Mr Fairweather added: “This is a demonstration of Weatherford’s commitment to the oil and gas sector as well as current and future employees of the industry.”
Terry Lehmann, Weatherford’s director of employee development, said the enlarged complex – part of a network of training hubs being set up by Weatherford worldwide – would become a showcase centre for the international oil and gas sector and an exporter of talent around the globe.
He added: “This is a key component of Weatherford’s overall strategy going forward and Aberdeen is the right place to be doing this in this part of the world.”
The extra staff expected at the site will take the total number to about 90, while the developments elsewhere in Aberdeen are predicted to grow the firm’s 1,200-strong north-east workforce by several hundred within a few years.
When Weatherford revealed in December 2006 it was investing £19million at Altens, including a new North Sea operations centre, it said the development could create 500 jobs over five years.
Since then, the firm’s Granite City workforce has grown by several hundred and the sum being spent on the 22-acre site at Altens has soared to £23million.
A further £6million is being invested in a regional administrative hub at Dyce – Weatherford House II – for the company’s European and African business.
Weatherford said its new development at Bridge of Don would create the largest training facility of its kind in Europe and would also house technology development aimed at enhancing the recovery of oil.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Weatherford’s latest investment was a ringing endorsement for the Scottish economy as a whole and the oil and gas industry in particular.
UK Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said the centre would play a key role as the North Sea industry entered a new era, which needed many more skilled workers to exploit the remaining oil reserves.
Malcolm Webb, the chief executive of industry body Oil and Gas UK, added: “Weatherford’s major investment in this excellent, leading-edge technology and training facility is great news, not only for the UK oil and gas industry but also, most importantly, for the numerous people who will benefit from these facilities.”