Damning figures showing the north-east’s dependence on oil and gas could actually be the answer to the net zero “conundrum”, according to a top energy consultant.
Martyn Tulloch, an energy consultant and former oil worker at Wood, said yesterday that data showing the region’s exposure to job decline due to its reliance on North Sea employment could be “central” to its success.
A recent report by the European Commission highlighted the north-east as the most “at risk” area in Europe in terms of job sector losses, with the region’s exposure double that of the next nearest area.
But Mr Tulloch claims a North Sea skill-set could be a “positive, rather than a negative” for the region.
According to the study, the north-east’s level of exposure has been calculated at 11.3%, followed by Silesia in Poland (5.3%) and Sud-Vest Oltenia in Romania at 1.8%.
Mr Tulloch said: “We’re heavily dependent on oil and gas for employment and these numbers illustrate that quite graphically.
“The figures show we have twice the dependency of the second closest region, and six times that of the third.
“To me it, illustrates two things – oil and gas has been a fantastic source of jobs over the last four decades, but we also have the skills that can solve the net-zero conundrum.”
Mr Tulloch, an energy consultant for over a decade, said that he believes the skills created in Aberdeen and the surrounding areas through oil and gas will be “a central part” of Europe’s push to meet net zero carbon emissions, especially in offshore wind, hydrogen and carbon capture.
He said: “There’s hugely transferable skill sets there and we need to let Europe know that we can be a big part of the solution to the challenge.”
As the coastlines of Grampian and the Highlands start to see more offshore wind farms being built, Mr Tulloch claims there is a huge economic and environmental opportunity for the region – if the oil and gas sector can let other sectors know it is “open” for new business.
He said: “I think historically there may have been a lack of understanding between the two sectors and perhaps we have not fully engaged as we should have – but that is certainly changing.
“When you look at it, there is a huge possibility there because oil and gas platforms have such a big power demand.
“If you could electrify even a portion of that it will help decarbonise the industry and help the economics of an offshore grid.”
Mr Tulloch said new studies show that carbon capture and storage (CCS), in particular, has the potential to create 26,000 direct and 18,000 indirect jobs.
He said he understands the transition will be “difficult” but added that the opportunity could revitalise the north of Scotland in both jobs and investment, adding: “You obviously don’t want to raise people’s hopes too high as there will be a challenge to win this work.
“But in the 1970s Aberdeen managed to use its geographical advantage to make itself an essential supply base – that was down to its entrepreneurial spirit and some political will.
“That’s what we need again.”