Statoil Aberdeen expansion praised by First Minister
The First Minister has hailed an expansion from oil and gas company Statoil as a "vote of confidence" in the future of the North Sea.
Nicola Sturgeon was speaking as she officially opened the Norwegian company's new headquarters in Aberdeen, part of plans to expand its operation in the area.
Statoil said it expects to employ up to 200 people onshore and up to 500 workers offshore by 2018.
More than 1,000 supply chain jobs will be supported by the development of the Mariner field, with work expected to start next summer.
The company is also investing in offshore wind through the Hywind project, the world's first floating offshore wind development, off the coast of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
During the visit, Ms Sturgeon announced that 600 people have had applications approved under the three-year transition training fund, launched in February to help those facing redundancy in the sector retrain or go on to further education.
About 70 innovative projects with a total value of around £16 million have benefited from £7 million of Scottish Government support to help firms reduce the risks associated with research and development while a further £1.1 million has been invested to support business resilience in the oil and gas industry.
Ms Sturgeon said: "The expertise that Scottish oil and gas firms have built up over many decades has positioned our energy sector as a world leader and while we realise that the industry and workforce is going through a difficult time, this investment and expansion from Statoil is a vote of confidence in the North Sea's future.
"Last week's oil and gas production statistics demonstrate that the industry is adapting to the current period of low prices, but what the industry must be ready to do is to capitalise when the upturn comes.
"We are doing everything we can to support the sector. Only halfway through the first year of our three-year transition training fund, launched in February, already 600 people have had their applications for support approved, and separately, we've committed £1.1 million to projects to boost business resilience.
"In conjunction with the efforts of the energy jobs taskforce, our enterprise agencies have now engaged with more than 700 companies in the oil and gas sector, and will continue to identify where help is most needed and lay foundations for the future of our energy sector."
Hedda Felin, managing director of Statoil production UK, said: "Statoil has a long-term commitment to Scotland and to the UK Continental Shelf, as this new operations centre visibly demonstrates.
"Starting with just a handful of employees in the spring of 2013, Statoil has grown its workforce in Aberdeen to around 140.
"This autumn we will initiate another significant recruitment process, with around 40 open positions to be filled in coming months."