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15 April 2015, 06:00
Almost three quarters of oil and gas workers are considering looking for work outside the UK as the North Sea industry continues to suffer from plunging oil prices, according to a survey.
The research by industry website Rigzone found 71% of respondents across the UK are thinking about a move overseas, with lack of job security cited as the main reason by those working in Scotland and the North Sea.
More than half (52%) of Scotland-based respondents reported a lack of confidence in their career prospects over the next five years.
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 off-shore 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.''
The survey also found that 45% of people working in Scotland, and 44% of those working elsewhere in the UK, have little confidence in the ability of tax cuts announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the Budget last month to stimulate investment in the North Sea.
The UK Government's £1.3 billion package of support includes a cut to the supplementary charge on oil industry companies' profits from 30% to 20% and a reduction in petroleum revenue tax from 50% to 35% next year.
A tax allowance is to be introduced to stimulate investment in the North Sea alongside a £20 million fund for new surveys of the UK continental shelf (UKCS) aimed at boosting exploration.
The survey of 963 oil and gas professionals across the UK found only 17% believe the initiatives will be enough to stimulate meaningful investment in North Sea exploration over the next five years, with 38% undecided.
A majority of Scotland-based respondents (67%) said a return to stable oil prices was more important than government policy to boost UK offshore reserves.
Across the UK, 78% of respondents expressed support for Norway's approach to stimulating exploration, whereby companies can claim back up to 78% of exploration spending.
Less than half (44%) favoured introducing a Norwegian-style wealth fund for oil production taxes, with 41% saying they feel it is too late to introduce such a system.