Scotland business

Scotland's subsea excellence boosts growth

North sea gas rig
Image caption The UK's subsea industry - worth £5.9bn - supports about 50,000 jobs

Scotland is now home to 46% of the UK's subsea industry which is worth £5.9bn and supports about 50,000 jobs, according to a survey.

Subsea UK, which surveyed 761 firms for its 2010 Business Activity Review, said Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire had become a subsea centres of excellence.

The report said subsea had become one of the UK's highest-performing sectors, with 40% growth between 2007 and 2010.

It also accounted for a third of the £18.9bn global market.

The industry umbrella body predicted the industry would be worth £7.5bn by 2013.

About 350 subsea companies are located across Scotland with 290 in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

The survey said manufacturing companies made up nearly half of the subsea sector, contributing 35% of the total output, with almost 30% of these located in North-east Scotland.

It said key export markets for UK subsea companies were Europe (especially Norway), Africa (especially West Africa), North America and Asia. Future export growth was anticipated to come primarily from South America and Africa.

Based on responses, the survey deduced that the renewable market was not currently a significant driver of the UK subsea industry.

Data indicated that the total subsea-related turnover from UK companies attributable to renewables was approximately £420m.

Almost 40% of respondents did not provide any goods or services to renewables. About a third reported renewables accounting for between 1% and 9% of their total turnover.

Export driven

Subsea UK chief executive, Alistair Birnie, said: "These findings underline the huge economic significance of the subsea industry to the UK.

"It is highly impressive that despite the economic downturn, subsea businesses in the UK have grown by almost 40% between 2006 and 2009 and the sector is now larger than ever, commanding a third of the global market.

"Much of the growth has been driven by exports which are increasingly important to the health of the sector."

Mr Birnie said that if the forecast of about 8% year on year growth was achieved, the sector would reach over £7.5bn in revenues with the potential to create an additional 10,000 jobs.

He added: "With such a buoyant oil and gas market, it is hardly surprising that renewables account for only a small percentage of turnover, although there are growing signs that this will increase in the future and Subsea UK is committed to helping its members diversify into marine renewables where their skills, technology and expertise can add real value."

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