Survey reveals that Scottish oil and gas workers are divided over what independence could mean for investment levels, wages and jobs.

  • Workforce almost split down the middle when asked if Scottish independence would have a positive or negative impact on North Sea oil and gas workers
  • 56% believe wages would stay the same if Scotland becomes independent
  • 54% believe more jobs would be created if Scotland becomes independent
  • 39% think oil and gas investment levels would fall if Scotland becomes independent
  • 41% believe exploration and production would stay the same if Scotland becomes independent

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% believing it would have a negative impact and 47% saying it would have a positive impact. Similarly, when asked about job opportunities, 54% said more would be created and 46% said fewer would be created.

When asked about wages, 56% of oil and gas workers believe that wages would stay the same if Scotland became independent, with 25% believing they would fall and 19% 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% 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% 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.”

- ENDS –

Notes for editors
UK Government figures on the talent shortage can be found here: The Oil and Gas Industrial Strategy: Business and Government Action Plan
Oil & Gas UK talks about recent investment in this press release

About the report
The Scottish independence oil and gas survey was commissioned in July 2013 and completed by 199 oil and gas workers in the UK.


Vicki Codd

Vicki Codd

Marketing Director

Key facts

15 years experience in Business to Business Marketing, Chartered Marketer, Cambridge Graduate and Joined in 2015. Vicki is an experienced B2B marketer who specialises in brand and communications. Since graduating from Cambridge, Vicki has worked in a variety of service sectors including: IT, Telco, Financial Services and Social Housing.

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"NES is a global organisation yet it has a fantastic culture that ensures everyone feels part of the same team and works together on a local and international level.  The commitment staff show to providing the best service for candidates and clients is exceptional and makes marketing the brand an incredibly exciting proposition" 

Vicki is also a Certified Quark Digital Marketer and a qualified Helicopter pilot.