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UK retains crown

North east Scotland to enjoy boom in subsea engineering

Neil Gordon: ‘companies reveal much greater optimism

Job opportunities in the subsea engineering sector are expected to accelerate as Britain retains its position as the global leader in the sector.

Forecasters say 9,000 UK jobs will be created over the next three years – mainly in northeast Scotland – in a sector worth £7.8 billion, or 37% of the global market of £21bn.

The latest figures from industry body, Subsea UK confirm that the UK remains the market leader in underwater engineering, manufacturing, products and services.

Subsea UK’s Business Activity Review for the fiscal year 2018/19, shows employment figures remain fairly static, rising from 45,033 in 2017 to 45,163. However, the forecasts for recruitment in the next 12 – 36 months are more promising.

Almost 80% of companies anticipate ramping up recruitment, with forecasts suggesting employment in the industry could rise to over 54,000 by 2022.

The review, published in advance of its three-day annual Subsea Expo event in Aberdeen, says the majority of these jobs will be in North-east Scotland, where 63% of the industry is based.

However, the North-east of England, where the subsea industry is worth around £1.5billion and supports 15,000 jobs, will also see a considerable increase in recruitment.

Neil Gordon, chief executive of Subsea UK, formed by government and industry in 2003, said: “The last five years have taken their toll on those subsea companies predominantly operating in oil and gas. But the findings in this business activity review reveal that the UK subsea industry has weathered the storm.

“The decline has been arrested with a clear upturn in activity, largely due to an increase in output from subsea SMEs and more activity in renewables, particularly offshore wind.

“The growth projections provided by both the Tier 1 companies and SMEs reveal much greater optimism, due to both the recovery in oil and gas and the opportunities presented by the energy transition.”

Total revenues from renewables have risen by over half a billion from £1.3billion in 2017 to £1.8billion.

Around 80% of large subsea companies are predicting growth in their revenues from the renewable energy sector, with a fifth predicting to grow their revenues from renewables by 20% or more.

Almost 70% of SMEs expect to grow their revenues in renewables with over a fifth anticipating growth in this sector or more than 20%.

Mr Gordon said: “While oil and gas and renewables remain the largest markets for the UK subsea industry, revenues from other sectors, such as wave and tidal, defence, subsea mining and marine science are on the increase and interest in these, along with the emerging aquaculture sector, is growing.

“The drive towards net-zero presents exciting opportunities to develop solutions that accelerate the energy transition, particularly in carbon capture and storage.

With the largest offshore wind market in the world right on our doorstep, the UK subsea industry must do more to capitalise on the underwater aspects of these developments and use them to showcase our technical excellence to the rest of the world.”

Exports account for around 43% of the total 2019 output. This is down on the 55% reported in 2017.

“The subsea industry remains a significant British export success story,” commented Mr Gordon.

New identity

N-Sea and BODAC, two of the subsea sector’s most experienced subsea survey and UXO disposal companies, have announced the new identity of their existing joint venture (JV). 

Following a multi-million euro investment in its specialist UXO provision, the JV will now trade as UXOcontrol, reflecting its unique, market-leading UXO risk mitigation solutions.

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