Oil and gas workforce has mixed views on the potential impact of Scottish independence

Paul Boughton

A recent survey by technical manpower specialist, NES Global Talent, has revealed that oil and gas workers in Scotland are very much divided when it comes to the potential impact of Scottish independence on the industry.

A national referendum is being held on 18th September 2014 to decide whether Scotland will become an independent country.

Craig Paterson, Associate Director at NES Global Talent in Glasgow, comments: “One of the key talking points around Scottish independence at the minute is how the North Sea oil and gas industry will be impacted. This survey comes at a time when investment in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) is rising. Due to tax changes this year, the industry is investing the highest amount in the UKCS for more than 30 years. In addition, according to UK government figures, an extra 15,000 jobs are due to be created in the UK oil and gas sector over the next five years. However, our survey, and interaction with our contractors, shows that workers are uncertain over what the future holds for investment levels and job potential. Responses have been very split."

When asked about the overall impact of Scottish independence, results are divided, with 53 per cent believing it would have a negative impact and 47 per cent saying it would have a positive impact. Similarly, when asked about job opportunities, 54 per cent said more would be created and 46 per cent said fewer would be created.
When asked about wages, 56 per cent of oil and gas workers believe that wages would stay the same if Scotland became independent, with 25 per cent believing they would fall and 19 per cent saying they would rise.

“The survey shows the majority of workers in Scotland think independence will have no impact on current wage trends, with 56 per cent saying they will stay the same.” Paterson added.

“Oil and gas salaries are continuing to climb dramatically as renewed UK North Sea investment and global competition for fewer workers leaves companies competing to attract and retain talent. Over the past 12 months, rates for contractors have risen by up to 20 per cent in some cases. The competition for workers is so fierce that companies look set to continue offering more money and more benefits over the coming years, whether Scotland becomes independent or not.”

According to Paterson, entry-level oil and gas workers in the UK are typically earning a salary of between £35,000 and £40,000 a year, intermediate level workers between £40,000 and £60,000 a year and senior level workers between £60,000 and £120,000 plus.

Commenting on the survey, one NES Global Talent contractor said: “For me and many of my colleagues, a competitive salary and working in a safe and secure region are the key drivers in accepting a job. Scotland offers us those things.”

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