As the price of oil recovers from its slump of 2014–16, the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry is also showing signs of renewed confidence, according to trade body Oil and Gas UK.
In its outlook report for last year, the organisation reported that the plummeting cost of oil had spurred the sector to halve its average unit operating costs over a two-year period. As a result, the ongoing upturn has found the UK sector leaner and more competitive, with the report suggesting that recruitment was also set to recover.

The industry shed 120,000 jobs in the UK between 2014 and 2016, but the report stated that “the largest reductions may be behind us”. In January, BP announced the discovery of two new offshore oil fields in the Central North Sea and west of Shetland. February saw Shell approve plans to develop its first new manned oil platform in the Northern North Sea for almost 30 years, focussing on production, storage and offloading.

Meanwhile, Centrica and German firm Bayerngas Norge formed Spirit Energy, a joint production and exploration venture that has invested £75m in drilling a new oil well in the Southern North Sea, expected to bring 50bn cubic feet of gas on stream.

Dean Marks, Spirit Energy’s HR Director, said that today’s oil and gas sector was looking for employees with a wide range of skills, including engineers, geophysicists and geologists, plus business and technical support, including the supply chain.

IT and telecommunications skills are becoming more vital, and there is a need for cybersecurity specialists to protect these networks against disruption.

Spirit Energy is developing its own graduate programme and is also planning to recruit more apprentices in electrical, mechanical and control and instrumentation. The new company employed four apprentices in 2017.

“Spirit is very keen on starting at the school leaver and apprentice level to encourage women and men to consider coming into the oil and gas industry,” Marks said.