The sector of Marine non-living resources is crucial to the Blue Economy. For many years, the industry has played a critical role in ensuring that the European economy has access to energy and raw materials. Although some of its sub-sectors have reached maturity and are in decline, the sector is expected to play a critical role in transitioning to a sustainable Blue Economy. Both in terms of enhancing the availability of critical materials to develop low-carbon technologies and reducing its impacts on the marine environment and climate change mitigation through adopting climate-neutral, circular, responsible and resource efficient practices.
The transition to a sustainable Blue Economy relies on Marine non-living resources to bolster the supply of the raw materials needed to develop the low-carbon technologies, which in turn will help reduce the impact on the marine environment, and mitigate climate change. Climate-neutral, circular, responsible, and resource-efficient ways will achieve this.
The extraction of oil and gas and other minerals, (including gravel, sandpits, clays, kaolin, and salt), and their support activities, are all part of the Marine non-living resources industry.
Offshore production in the North Sea is mainly driven by Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland.
However, due to declining production levels, rising production costs, and the European Green Deal's drive toward renewable energy, the mature offshore gas and oil sector has suffered a downturn in recent years. While oil and gas prices are falling, the prices of other minerals are rising.
Mining the seabed is a crucial component of the EU Sustainable Blue Economy for the future maritime economy, particularly to meet the needs of high-tech enterprises. Rather than mining, Europe's activity is mainly focused on exploiting marine aggregates. More than 50 million m3 of marine aggregates, chiefly sand and gravel, are collected from the European marine seabed each year, primarily for use in the building sector, beach filling, and sea defence work (i.e., to safeguard dunes, beaches, coastal areas and islands). The Netherlands, Denmark, France, and Belgium were the top EU aggregate extractor countries in 2018.
In 2019, the GVA generated by the sector amounted to almost EUR 4.7 billion, a 58% decrease compared to 2009. Gross profits were EUR 3.7 billion, down 61 percent from EUR 9.7 billion in 2009. The reported turnover was EUR 13.1 billion, down 80% from the EUR 67 billion reported in 2009.
The sector also employed more than 10 060 people in 2019, 71% less than in 2009. As a result, personnel costs totalled EUR 0.9 billion, 40% less than in 2009. As personnel costs fell less less than the numbers employed, the annual average gross wage, estimated at almost EUR 90 700, more than doubled compared to 2009 (EUR 44 570).