Oil and gas engineers contracting as Umbrella Company Employees are to see a major new burst of opportunities in the North Sea with the announcement of a £4bn investment in the Kraken field off Shetland.

The field, which will consist of 25 wells and is believed to hold almost 140m barrels of oil, is majority-owned by EnQuest, an Aberdeen-based oil company, and the new investment is the largest in the North Sea this year. It is likely to generate 20,000 new jobs in the construction phase alone and EnQuest anticipates hiring 1,000 operational workers every year throughout the field’s 25-year life.

Following approval for the investment from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the chancellor, George Osborne, said that it would “create jobs and boost the British economic plan”, adding that it was evidence that the government’s efforts to create a competitive tax regime for North Sea investment was working.

Welcoming the announcement, Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said that it offered “unequivocal evidence” that the oil and gas industry has faith in the North Sea as a major oil producing province.

EnQuest’s operations director, Oonagh Werngren said: “Development of Kraken will secure a significant number of jobs for the UK, provide a valuable source of primary energy to enhance our security of supply and generate tax revenues for the Treasury, which is all very much to be welcomed.”

Gross peak oil production is expected to be underway by 2016/17 and the field is estimated to yield in excess of 50,000 barrels per day.

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