ENERGY giants Shell and Taqa have come under fire for axing hundreds of jobs just a week after a £1.3 billion package of tax breaks was unveiled for the industry.
Scotland’s beleaguered North Sea oil and gas industry suffered another black day after 350 job losses were announced by the two energy giants yesterday. Shell and Taqa say the recent collapse in the global oil price is behind the cutbacks.
“Current market conditions make it even more important that we ensure our business is competitive. Changes are vital if it is to be sustainable”Paul Goodfellow
But the lay-offs were branded a “scandal” by union chiefs after a package of support was unveiled in last week’s Budget.
Firms are now being accused of a “race to the bottom” over jobs.
Nicola Sturgeon said it was a “difficult and worrying time” for the families affected and said the Scottish Government would continue to support those affected.
Shell is to cut 250 jobs in its North Sea operations and introduce changes to shift patterns. The oil giant said the plans will affect staff and agency contractors.
Paul Goodfellow, Shell’s upstream vice-president for the UK and Ireland, said: “The North Sea has been a challenging operating environment for some time.
“Reforms to the fiscal regime announced in the Budget are a step in the right direction, but the industry must redouble its efforts to tackle costs and improve profitability.”
The cuts are in addition to 250 job losses announced last August.
The current shift pattern is for two weeks on, two weeks off, two weeks on, four weeks off.
One of the options for changing the system is for three weeks on, three weeks off.
A spokesman for Taqa said the lay-offs will predominately be of contractors and consultants.
“Taqa’s UK North Sea business, along with the industry as a whole, is operating in a challenging environment,” a spokesman added.
The latest job losses come after BP announced 300 North Sea job losses in January, with Chevron and Schlumberger also having unveiled plans to axe hundreds of jobs earlier in the year.
A recent Scottish Parliament report suggested the current crisis could see 15,000 jobs axed of the 200,000 posts based north of the Border.
Oil prices have slumped to about 50 dollars a barrel in recent months, less than half its value last summer.
George Osborne announced major changes to the North Sea tax regime in his Budget last week, in response to difficulties facing the UK oil and gas sector. petroleum revenue tax is being cut from 50 per cent to 35 per cent to support continued production in older fields and the supplementary charge is being cut from 30 per cent to 20 per cent.
Unite’s Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, said: “There is no doubt we are witnessing a concerted effort by the offshore industry to impose a race to the bottom on jobs, terms, conditions and ultimately safety across the North Sea.”
He added: “We need our politicians to wake up to the reality of what’s happening in the North Sea – it’s a growing scandal.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs yesterday: “My thoughts are very much with the people affected by these announcements. It will be a very difficult and worrying time for them and their families.”
Ms Sturgeon said Scottish Government “partnership action for continuing employment” and energy jobs task force are working to “mitigate” job losses.
She added: “We will continue to support all those affected.”
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