Research shows North Sea oil sector well regarded

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The Scottish oil and gas sector is strongly regarded within the global industry, particularly in the US, new research suggests.

In a survey assessing the attitudes of more than 260 senior executives towards Scotland’s energy firms and personnel, 71% agreed that Scottish employees “are some of the most experienced and dependable”.

The study was commissioned by Scottish Development International (SDI), the agency that promotes Scottish business abroad.

FTI Consulting questioned representatives working for companies in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Scandinavia and the Asia Pacific region.

Almost three-quarters (74%) agreed that Scotland was one of the world’s training grounds for the industry.

Participants were asked if they preferred training staff in Scotland, hiring staff from Scotland or working with Scottish suppliers or contractors.

According to SDI, 74% said they preferred working with Scottish suppliers or contractors, with the figure rising to 88% among US respondents.

Half of those who responded saw opportunities within Scotland itself while more than half (55%) considered their relationship with Scottish companies to be growing.

Executives were also asked about challenges facing the industry, with 71% of US respondents citing concern about a lack of qualified and skilled employees.

Around 45% of European Union participants saw difficulties in the provision of specialist training for employees.

The SDI report said: “The research findings confirm the considerable influence that Scotland continues to wield as an educator and pioneer with decades of oil and gas sector experience and a wealth of wider industry knowledge accumulated over many years.

“It has also shown that Scotland is ideally positioned to work with companies internationally as the exceptional skills that Scottish companies and personnel have to offer is recognised worldwide.

“This study underlines Scotland’s reputation in the global oil and gas industry but also highlights new opportunities where its position can be further enhanced.

“In order to maintain its position at the forefront of the industry, Scotland must ensure that it continues to provide and train enough quality personnel, and continue to export skills at a rate fast enough to keep up with global demand in other regions.

“If the country continues to develop overseas relationships at the rate seen of late, there is no reason why Scotland cannot continue to remain at the centre of energy exploration and production globally for many years to come.”

SDI head of oil and gas David Rennie said the findings were a “positive reinforcement” of what was already apparent anecdotally.

He said: “We are world-leading. At this challenging time for the sector globally, these are very positive responses.”

The research was conducted between September 2 and 8 last year.