Aberdeen is unlikely to see another oil boom in the future.
That was the message delivered by an energy expert to delegates at the SNP conference yesterday.
Aberdeen oil and gas innovation centre chief executive, Ian Phillips, claimed the Granite City, where he lives, had “hurt like hell” over the last couple of years.
Mr Phillips added the impact of the downturn had rippled through the city and across Scotland and the rest of the UK.
He said: “There’s no doubt the oil industry in Aberdeen has hurt like hell, with about 10,000 jobs lost in the city.
“It has been a brutal experience for Aberdeen and it has coincided with production decline.
“It shows up in things like hotels and restaurants closing and house sales with people desperately trying to get out of negative equity.”
The industry leader argued he thought the situation had reached rock bottom and was now recovering, but admitted he did not expect the return of many jobs, nor the price of a barrel of oil to rise above $60.
He said: “We probably have hit a bottom – I am now reading about new tenders – but I personally doubt it will go up much.
“Aberdeen has two big things going for it in its long-term storage capacity off the coast and its infrastructure and supply chain base.
“I doubt many of the jobs will return in the North Sea. I am not optimistic, but I think the situation is stabilising.”
Mr Phillips explained the industry was increasingly looking to robotics as well as more mobile extraction techniques in order to cut costs and access oil in smaller “pools” around the bigger North Sea fields.
He added: “It’s viable to expect these smaller fields in the North Sea to yield $60 barrels.
“We’re looking at getting rid of expensive flow lines and using buoys and tankers going out instead, which will remove big chunks of cost.
“We have a robotics revolution coming and removing the need for safety and life support systems.”