THE huge opportunities for the subsea oil and gas industry, in which Scotland is the global leader, have been outlined in a new report.

The UK industry has a 50% share of the worldwide market and a major period of growth lies ahead, with worldwide revenue estimated to rise from $29bn to $41bn (£15bn-£21bn) by 2011.

The figures are from a survey commissioned by the Scottish Enterprise energy team from Douglas-Westwood and unveiled at Subsea 07 in Aberdeen, Europe's biggest event for the subsea oil and gas sector. It highlights how subsea hardware providers are struggling to meet demand, with serious shortages of deep-water installation vessels.

Africa is forecast to become the world's largest subsea market, growing from $6bn in 2006 to $12bn within four years.

Asia and Latin-America are also expected to see extensive levels of growth.

On the non-pipeline side, drilling and completion is predicted to rise by 45% between 2007 and 2011, from £8.1bn to £14.4bn. Meanwhile numbers of global subsea well installations have risen from approximately 200 in 2004 to 300 in 2006, with a further 500 units forecast by 2011.

Scottish subsea companies are already world leaders in technology supply and operations. A major player in remotely operated vehicles, this sector is expected to double over the next five years.

The energy team hopes the research can be used by Scottish subsea businesses to keep one step ahead in the global market and target their activities to where there are huge opportunities on offer.

Brian Nixon, Scottish Enterprise energy director, said: "The research we commissioned is hugely valuable to the sector and could help companies gain the competitive edge they need to win business well into the future. We would encourage them to assess the information and make full use of it."