Talent shortage is a barrier to expansion in North Sea, says oil giant.

The oil giant is planning to create between 150 and 300 jobs a year to help fuel an expected increase in production, but difficulty recruiting the necessary talent is a potential barrier to expansion, said Trevor Garlick, head of the company’s North Sea operations.

“Getting hold of the right people is a real issue for us. We are hiring a lot people, but we are also an exporter of a couple of hundred people to other regions,” Garlick told the Sunday Telegraph.

Garlick explained that as BP’s North Sea operations were a “centre for recruiting elsewhere”, trained workers often transferred to overseas posts within the company, leaving a hard-to-fill skills gap in the domestic business.

BP recently announced it would invest £3 billion into its North Sea operations to redevelop two oilfields to the west of the Shetland Islands, part of the company’s plan to exploit the 450 million barrels of untapped oil reserves in the region.

Garlick said: “We haven’t got half of [the oil] out yet. In my mind, there needs to be an energy mix over the next 20 years and that includes fossil fuels … and this area [the North Sea]. I think people are ill-informed when they say this area is over.”

And BP is not the only company in the oil and gas sector anticipating a surge in demand for experts. Research from industry body Opito found that 81 per cent of UK firms planned to expand over the next five years, creating the need for an additional 15,000 experienced workers in this field.

This was despite a decision in the chancellor’s last budget to hike up the levy on oil producers’ offshore profits from 20 per cent to 32 per cent – which has generated much protest in the sector.