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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Delegates gather for oil event
Kittiwake platform
Exploration is at an all-time low in the North Sea
The future of the North Sea oil industry is being placed under the microscope in Aberdeen.

Thousands of delegates have been gathering in the city for Offshore Europe, a major exhibition and conference.

Concerns have been raised over the lack of exploration which is under way to find new fields.

Efforts to attract young people into the industry are also seen as a priority.

Offshore Europe is held every two years, providing both a shop window and a talking shop for the industry.

Gradual decline

The last event in 2001 attracted 24,500 visitors from 72 countries.

An estimated 100,000 jobs in Scotland are fuelled by North Sea oil, including about 30,000 offshore workers.

However, those numbers are expected to decline gradually over the next 30 years.

Extending the life of the industry is close to the top of executives' must-do lists.

There is as much oil and gas left in the North Sea as has already been extracted
Lewis Macdonald
Deputy Enterprise Minister
Exploration is at an all-time low, but companies have shown great interest in the licences to drill in new fields.

The average age of a North Sea worker is now 50, which has also made encouraging young people into the industry a priority.

The Offshore Europe event runs from Tuesday until Friday at Aberdeen's Exhibition and Conference Centre.

Deputy Enterprise Minister Lewis Macdonald said companies had "numerous options" for diversification.

"Aberdeen is the energy capital of Europe, and will remain so for many years to come," he said.

"There is as much oil and gas left in the North Sea as has already been extracted, so the industry will remain a key part of the Scottish economy."

BBC Scotland's Andrew Anderson
"The welcome signs are out in Aberdeen"

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31 May 02  |  Scotland

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