More than three-quarters of the UK gas and oil workers are considering moving abroad, with more than half of the sector’s Scottish work force pessimistic about their short term North Sea prospects according to a new survey by industry website Rigzone.
The survey showed the affect the plunging oil prices is having on the beleaguered North Sea industry as 71% of respondents across the UK revealing that they are thinking about moving overseas, with Scottish workers citing a lack of job security as the main reason.
Over half (52%) of those surveyed in Scotland reported a lack of confidence in their career prospects over the next five years.
The findings from the survey follows analysis by organisations representing the industry and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills that estimated the number of jobs supported by the industry will slump from a current 375,000 to 340,000 in 2019.
A number of companies have recently announced job losses, with Offshore drilling operator KCA Deutag cutting 230 North Sea jobs and the company have proposed a 5 per cent salary reduction to all employees, saying that a further 500 positions worldwide are at risk.
BP announced in January it will cut 200 jobs and 100 contractor roles, with ConocoPhillips cut 230 jobs, Shell cut 250 jobs in August and Chevron cut 225 jobs in July.
The UK government has pledged £1.3 billion in a package of support for the sector that includes a cut to the “supplementary charge” on oil industry companies’ profits from 30 per cent to 20 per cent as well as a reduction in petroleum revenue tax from 50 per cent to 35 per cent next year.
A tax allowance is to be introduced to stimulate investment in the North Sea oil and gas industry alongside a £20 million fund for new surveys of the UK continental shelf, aimed at boosting exploration.
However 44 per cent of those working in the UK said they were not holding out hope in the ability of these recently announced tax cuts to stimulate more investment in the North Sea.
The survey of 963 oil and gas professionals in the UK found as little as 17 per cent believe the initiatives will be enough to stimulate meaningful investment in North Sea exploration over the next five years, with 38 per cent undecided.
The majority of Scotland-based respondents (67 per cent) said that return to stable oil prices was more important than government policy to boost UK offshore reserves.
Mark Guest, international managing director of Rigzone, said: “Oil and gas professionals are highly mobile.
“If assurances cannot be given by the industry about the mid to long-term career opportunities in the UK’S offshore market, our survey indicates that many professionals may simply look for work elsewhere. This could exacerbate recruitment issues in the sector at a time when the industry has already highlighted a shortage of engineering students graduating from British universities.”