Out on the North Sea’s ocean waves, and beneath them, is also where specialist sets of skills, occupations and qualifications we now call engineering construction developed as a business. It’s important to the UK economy, employing over 400,000 people directly and indirectly (about half in Scotland), and is worth around £16 billion a year.
The oil and gas industry comes in two different parts, ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’.
‘Upstream’ refers to offshore work in the North Sea, searching for, extracting and producing oil and gas. It also includes work onshore to support the work going on offshore. Since North Sea oil was discovered around 40 years ago, almost £300 billion has been invested in exploration and drilling! These activities need a skilled and committed engineering construction workforce, and about two-thirds of the 30,000- plus engineering construction jobs in the oil and gas sector are ‘upstream.’
‘Downstream’ is concerned with refining crude oil and storing, selling and distributing natural gas and other products made from processing crude oil, such as petrol, diesel and jet fuel. There are about 12,000 engineering construction jobs in the ‘downstream’ oil and gas sector.