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Renewables can compete with oil for talent, energy expert says

John Scrimgeour, emeritus adviser on energy at Aberdeen University.
John Scrimgeour, emeritus adviser on energy at Aberdeen University.

The renewables sector can compete with oil and gas for employees, an energy sector veteran said yesterday.

But green energy will probably never create the same amount of jobs as oil, said John Scrimgeour, emeritus adviser on energy at Aberdeen University.

Mr Scrimgeour said offshore wind farms, for example, were low maintenance compared to oil and gas infrastructure.

Other than the turbine itself, there are no real moving parts, he said.

Mr Scrimgeour was responding to a survey from Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, which showed that about a third of companies were diversifying into non-oil work.

At the same time, a similar proportion didn’t anticipate diversifying any further.

Mr Scrimgeour said the latter finding should not give cause for concern.

Instead, it is a simple case of some companies’ services and products being more suitable for transfer to other industries.

He said: “Some products are very oil specific. If you are making a downhole tool, it’s unlikely you’re going to find another industry where your technology is going to work.”

Oilfield service firms (OFS) who lay and maintain pipelines and umbilicals should also be able to apply their skills to cables for wind farms.

He said children were well informed about global warming, but that industry had to help pupils understand how they can make the transition from higher maths and physics in the classroom to the manager of a wind farm.

Mr Scrimgeour added international diversification was another opportunity for UK OFS firms.

In its report, AGCC said optimism in the international oil and gas sector had increased among more than half of contractors over the past 12 months.

Mr Scrimgeour said: “The North Sea is declining, but oil and gas consumption is increasing worldwide and has been all during the downturn.

“The world market for oil services has increased in terms of work volumes.”

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