The UK Continental Shelf Growth Plans

25 November 2011

3UK Continental Shelf exploration activities are set for a renaissance over the next 5 years, with investments of between £22-40 billion estimated, according to recent research. This is centred on the construction of a number of new platforms in the North Sea, as well as asset modifications, sub-sea tie backs, platform and subsea structures decommissioning.

It is estimated 15,000 new roles will be created, in order to deliver against the demands of planned projects. Aside from offshore oil and gas operations, not to be overlooked is the developing offshore new and renewable energy space, also set to create some 70,000 jobs, across Scotland and the Northeast of England.

Unlike other industries, the oil and gas sector has addressed its age demographic, which for some time inhabited the upper forties to early fifties age groups. Careful succession planning together with re-implementation of apprentiships and robust training programmes, specifically catering for the offshore market, has resulted in a positive outcome with greater representation of the workforce aged between 16 and 25 years. Women, however, still remain underrepresented in the offshore sector, where the business fails to attract and retain this talent.

Moreover, the skill sets required for the numerous and complex projects ahead, are scarce, but it is critical to build candidate pools to create the level of capability required to avoid inter-company competition, inflated salaries, and perhaps most critically and costly the delay or cancellation of projects. #

It is estimated that recruitment and training rates will have to more than double over the next five years to accommodate the planned project schedule.

To this end universities are further commercialising their learning outreach programmes and courses, to ensure teaching and research is available to the widest possible community. The courses are also heavily funded, which allows individuals across all socioeconomic sectors to take part in this learning and development experience.

The process of creating our next generation of engineers has to start at an early age. Engineering is about creative innovation, using sound scientific or mathematical principles, the simplest of which can be demonstrated to children in primary schools. The basic principles can be fun to demonstrate, and easy to replicate, for example making a paper aeroplane to teach aerodynamics, or sucking water through a straw to demonstrate pressure gradients (essentially how drilling in the subsurface works). This is where thoughts of becoming an engineer can start, but for children to progress to become engineers the teaching methods have to be fun and exciting - which may not necessarily be the case at the moment?

There is little doubt that the UK leads the offshore sub-sea market, with 42,000 employees and £2 billion worth of products and services across 750 companies, in terms of technologies. It is vitally important that a succession of talented individuals is appropriately trained to maintain the competitive lead in this market sector.

(source: The Telegraph)