MORE than 500 oil and gas technology jobs may be created or sustained in the next six years under an initiative that could provide an £850 million boost to the economy, it has been estimated.

The predictions are included in a report that evaluates the impact of the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre formed in 2014 as the North Sea industry entered the deep downturn triggered by the crude price plunge.

The findings suggest the centre is achieving the key objective of helping the industry draw on the world-renowned strength of Scotland’s universities as it grapples with challenging trading conditions.

Aberdeen-based OGIC links companies that want to use technology to help improve their performance with universities that can help them develop it.

The results will boost hopes Scotland is developing the infrastructure needed to maximise the potential of the North Sea in coming decades in the wake of the devastation caused by the oil price fall.

Oil and gas firms have shed around 70,000 jobs in the UK since 2014.

“This report provides strong evidence of the positive impact OGIC is having on the industry, on Scotland and the UK, demonstrating what can be achieved by targeted intervention and funding,” said the organisation’s chief executive Ian Phillips.

The report by economic research consultancy Optimat examined the impact of the 61 projects funded or approved by OGIC to date.

OGIC said the report showed the projects it backed could result in significant cost savings for the industry and get much-needed technologies to market quicker.

The study found the projects already approved could create more than 500 jobs within the first 10 years of OGIC’s operations.

The projects can be expected to generate £855 million output, measured by gross value add by 2023.

“Even allowing for some inevitable entrepreneurial optimism in the forecasting, we are confident in the findings which were developed by Optimat using long established standard evaluation techniques,” said Mr Philips.

Projects supported by OGIC include monitoring technology work involving Robert Gordon University and Cambridge-based CorrosionRADAR, which will also work with Strathclyde university on research and development.

Mr Philips thinks the study shows the role OGIC has played in helping to commercialise ideas that may not have got funding.

OGIC said many of those interviewed had faced difficulties in the past in obtaining funding for very early stage of technology development. It could often take years to get a product to market.

The organisation noted: “OGIC now has a demonstrable track-record in accelerating that process with more than 35% of projects moving from concept stage to test and trial phase within 12 months.”

Mr Phillips noted the part OGIC played in the wider technology support network. It typically gets a project from inception to early prototype stage, ready for others such as the Oil & Gas Technology Centre and Scottish Enterprise to help the company through to commercialisation.

OGIC expects to support a further 45 projects by the end of this year.