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Contracting in Aberdeen

Aberdeen is on the North East coast of Scotland, approximately 130 miles north of Edinburgh, and 530 miles north of London. It is a vibrant, modern city which is full of life and surrounded by everything from tranquil countryside to a wide range of adrenaline-packed outdoor opportunities.

The city has a rich and inspiring history, a dynamic modern arts scene and perhaps Scotland's strongest industrial heritage. Combined with a great range of shops, award-winning cuisine and excellent nightlife, Scotland’s third largest city is cosmopolitan, lively and an excellent place to live and work – as more than 210,000 people from all around the UK can already attest to.

The city’s name is literally translated as ‘between the Don and the Dee’ - Aberdeen's two bordering rivers, which create a beautifully ‘Scottish’ backdrop to a historic and culturally-rich city. Thanks to its famous sparkling granite buildings, the Aberdeen skyline is certainly one of the most recognisable in Scotland, whilst the surrounding areas of Aberdeenshire are home to some of the most stunning scenery anywhere in the UK.

Aberdeen's core is that of Oil and Gas, for the latest vacancies in the area visit: RHL Recruitment,Kin-tech Recruitment and Technojobs. Also you may like to visit our engineering and oil and gas advisory pages.

Major companies

Aberdeen is definitely the Oil and Gas capital of the UK, thanks to its position as the ‘gateway to the North Sea’ and over 20,000 onshore contractors are based in the area. There are numerous companies in the city which have grown through their links to this highly lucrative industry – covering everything from oil and gas exploration, drilling services and oceanographic mapping, through to support services such as training, drilling equipment and parts, and consultancy services.

All the major players, and many of the minor ones, have offices in Aberdeen, including oil companies such as BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Transocean, Shell, Total and Chevron, plus service companies like Petrofac, AMEC, Halliburton, PSN, Aker and The Wood Group. Nearby Westhill is also home to Acergy, Subsea 7, Technip, Baker and Schlumberger.

Chevron Corporation

This is one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries across the globe. The company is based in San Ramon, California and employs more than 60,000 people worldwide, as well as having interests in nine oil and gas producing fields in UK waters. Offshore operations are run from a new office complex in Aberdeen, which was set up to provide research, development and technical services not just for the UK but for Chevron worldwide – and over 100 technology professionals are based here.

Chevron’s top three producing fields in the UK are the Captain field which is 68 miles north of Aberdeen and produces 51,000 barrels of oil and 10 million cubic feet of gas per day; the Britannia field which produces 19,000 barrels of oil and 437 million cubic feet of gas per day; and the Alba field, which is 130 miles north east of Aberdeen and produces 43,000 barrels of oil per day. The company also has interests in many other fields, as well as owning seven major refineries, one of which is located in Pembrokeshire.

Petrofac

This company is an international provider of facilities solutions to the oil and gas production and processing industry and it has more than 11,500 employees around the world, many of which are based in Aberdeen. The predominant focus of its business is on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), the Middle East and Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Asia Pacific region – and it delivers services through seven business units, which are Engineering & Construction, Engineering & Construction Ventures, Engineering Services, Offshore Engineering & Operations, Training, Production Solutions and Energy Developments.

ConocoPhillips

This is an international energy company which employs more than 30,000 people. Its head office is in Houston, Texas and its main non-US bases in Aberdeen and London, making it the third-largest integrated energy company in the US and the fifth-largest refiner and the sixth-largest reserves holder of non government-controlled companies. ConocoPhillips is known worldwide for its technological expertise in reservoir management and exploration, 3-D Seismic technology, high-grade petroleum coke upgrading and sulfur removal. The company is investing in several emerging businesses, such as fuels technology, gas-to-liquids, power generation and emerging technologies, all of which provide current and potential future growth opportunities.

ExxonMobil

This is the world's largest publicly-traded international oil and gas company, providing energy that helps underpin growing economies and improve living standards around the world. It has four core businesses – technology, upstream - exploration and production, downstream – refining and what is known as ‘marketing and chemical’.

ExxonMobil Chemical conducts business in more than 200 countries around the world and is one of the UK’s top 10 chemical companies in terms of turnover. It has supplied the UK market with gas for over 30 years, being responsible for approximately 10% of the UK's total oil and gas production. It has an interest in nearly 50 producing offshore fields and operates the largest refinery in the UK, which serves 1m retail customers every day and produces world-leading motor oils.

Talisman

This is a global, diversified, upstream oil and gas company which has its headquarters in Canada. Its three main operating areas are the North Sea, North America and Southeast Asia, and it has a large presence in Aberdeen. Talisman is the leading independent operator in the UK and its plan for the North Sea is to establish the region as a stable, cash generating business - with production at between 80,000 - 90,000 barrels of oil or equivalent per day through to the end of the decade. UK production accounts for 21% of the Company’s production worldwide and the primary UK focus in oil, with oil and liquids contributing 96% of UK production.

Major industries

  • Oil and gas
  • Construction
  • Tourism

Local newspapers

There are a number of quality, daily local newspapers in the area, the best read ones probably being the Press and Journal, which has a ‘hot jobs’ section on its website, and the Aberdeen Evening Express. Then of course at a national level there is The Scotsman, which also has a valuable jobs section on its website.

Typical rates of pay

Typical rates of pay for contractors will of course vary depending on any individual’s skill-set, but as Aberdeen has a requirement for such specialist contractors, the average rates are somewhat higher than elsewhere in the UK – outside of London. As an example, a contractor specialising in the oil and gas industry could expect to earn anything up to £750 per day depending on the role. Contractors in less specialist roles will probably command day rates of around £400 per day, so still well above average.

Ones to watch

There are a number of developments happening in Aberdeen which will provide opportunities for contractors in many sectors over the coming months and years - and most specifically in those sectors which are involved in, or support, the construction industry. Some of these include:

Aberdeen airport expansion

Proposals are in place to upgrade the runway at Aberdeen Airport by adding 300 metres in length, potentially long enough to accommodate long haul Boeing 747 aircraft which can reach North America and the Caribbean. The first phase of the terminal upgrade is nearing completion, with an extension of the departure lounge, a new cafe and an increased number of shopping units, and this will continue – with plans already in place to build an £18 million Hilton Garden Inn hotel, one of eleven hotel developments proposed in Aberdeen. Lastly, there are plans to move the Aberdeen to Inverness railway line to run through the airport terminal, creating a fast link between the airport and the city centre.

Aberdeen Crossrail

Staying with the railway theme, the proposed Aberdeen Crossrail project aims to see new stations built in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, as currently there are not enough stations to cover a high percentage of the population. The proposals could lead to a half-hourly commuter service between Inverurie, Aberdeen and Stonehaven during the daytime. Other railway proposals include Aberdeen to Banchory, Aberdeen to Peterhead and Aberdeen to Fraserburgh Maglev. All of which will require significant expertise from construction companies and related professionals.

Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route

This proposed Aberdeen road bypass has a budget of an estimated £300 million or more, and has been on the cards for a number of years. However, it was finally given the go ahead by the Scottish Government on 21st December 2009 and construction work on the project is likely to commence in 2011.

Shiprow Aberdeen City Wharf Development

On Shiprow the old What Everyone Wants building, which also houses an NCP car park, is undergoing a £27 million development, which will see the building (voted one Aberdeen’s worst seven buildings in a poll) get a facelift from the current late 20th century modern facade and have a 107 room hotel and casino built inside. The casino opened recently, with the hotel still under construction.

Pittodrie Stadium

This is located at a site that is surrounded by other developments and so there is little room for manoeuvre to upgrade the site. There have been proposals to move the football stadium to the outskirts of the city - within proximity of the Aberdeen Bypass - but there is some doubt as to where it might be located. The site is worth £23 million and is on prime real estate and so would be sold to help pay off the clubs debt. The club and the city council envisage building a community stadium that would give the club guaranteed match day rental. This would lead to better cost efficiencies for the club and more use of the stadium for community projects and events.

Trump International Golf Links

This is the biggest of the future developments in Aberdeenshire and is estimated to be worth some £300m in total. The ‘5* Trump International Golf Links, Scotland’ will be built by American billionaire Donald Trump and will include a brand new links golf course which is planned to be the best in the world and capable of hosting world class events such as The Open Championship. There are also plans to build a 300 bedroom five star hotel and hundreds of detached holiday homes at the often fog bound and windswept site.

Aberdeen Sports Village

This is being developed through a partnership between the University of Aberdeen and Sport Scotland. Aberdeen council has already started phase one of the sports village and phase two will begin in 2011. Some of the developments of the complex include a state-of-the-art gym, cafe, Olympic-size swimming pool and large sports halls.

Things to consider about contracting in Aberdeen

Pros

  • Loads of opportunity for contractors with specialist skills in the oil and gas or construction industries
  • A vibrant city with excellent nightlife
  • Beautiful countryside on your doorstep
  • One of the most ‘well off’ cities in the UK outside of London, based on average earnings

Cons

  • Many still fail to see the ‘sparkle’ of the Granite City and some feel it is still a bit roughty toughty and ‘gritty'
  • It’s a long way from, well, anywhere really – especially if you hanker to get back to London and the South regularly
  • Even the rest of Scotland’s cities are still a good couple of hours away

Key recruitment agencies and job boards

Recruitment agencies in Aberdeen are a little different to anywhere else in the UK as the region is so heavily focused on the Oil and Gas industry, good ones to try are: RHL Recruitment,Kin-tech Recruitment and Technojobs. If you have any questions about contracting or would like any further advice please call our client services helpdesk on 0500 152500/01442 275789 or e-mail: jaime.thorpe@sjdaccountancy.com

SJD Accountancy

SJD Accountancy is the UK's largest specialist provider of fixed fee, limited company accountancy services to contractors and freelancers.

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