A shortage of skilled engineers is threatening to hamper efforts by BP to boost production in the North Sea, a senior executive has said.
The oil giant is expected to recruit between 150 and 300 jobs a year but admits that one of its biggest problems is finding the right people with the right skills.
The comments, reported in the Sunday Telegraph, come a month after BP and its partners announced plans to invest £3 billion in redeveloping two oil fields off the Shetland Islands.
The move should create hundreds of new jobs but Trevor Garlick, head of the company's North Sea operations, said BP would struggle to attract enough engineers for the available roles.
He said: "Getting hold of the right people is a real issue for us. We are hiring a lot of people, but we are also an exporter of a couple of hundred people to other regions. We are a centre for recruiting elsewhere."
BP's North Sea operations are seen as a training ground by the rest of the company, which snaps up workers to fill posts overseas.
The company believes 450 million barrels of oil could be extracted from the Schiehallion and Loyal oil fields which lie to the west of Shetland in the north Atlantic Ocean. The fields have produced nearly 400 million barrels since 1998.
Mr Garlick said: "We haven't got the half of (the oil) out yet. In my mind, there needs to be an energy mix over the next 20 years and that includes fossil fuels.... and this area (the North Sea). I think people are ill-informed when they say this area is over."
According to oil and gas body Opito, which represents the industry, employers are expecting to create 10,000 new oil and gas jobs within the next five years.
However more than half of companies warn that attracting skilled staff is a key operational challenge, the group's latest analysis based on 144 companies shows.