Unite union calls for ‘state support’ of North Sea oil and gas sector

The sheltered waters of Cromarty Firth have long been used for refits or as an anchorage when oil prices fall and the need for rigs is diminished. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
The sheltered waters of Cromarty Firth have long been used for refits or as an anchorage when oil prices fall and the need for rigs is diminished. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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The UK’s biggest trade union has called for government intervention in the North Sea energy sector to protect working conditions.

Unite claimed strategic planning was required between the UK and Scottish Governments to ensure maximum economic recovery from remaining oil reserves.

In a submission to the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster on the future of the industry, the union stated that big energy firms had “moved quickly to cut pay and holiday entitlement and increased shift rotas following a sharp drop in the price of oil” in 2014.

More than 160,000 direct and indirect offshore jobs were lost between 2014 and 2017 as a result of the downturn.

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The union has also repeated its calls for a national decommissioning strategy as activity in Scotland over the next 10 years could be valued at between £8.3 billion and £11.3 billion - supporting peak employment of 16,925 to 22,775 jobs.

Tommy Campbell, Unite chair of the offshore co-ordinating group, said: “The oil and gas sector continues to be a major employer and contributor to the UK economy – and it will be so for generations to come. It is a sector of national interest and security; it cannot be left to the vagaries of the market. We have seen the devastating effects of this approach over the last few years and this can’t be allowed to happen again.

“The UK and Scottish governments must step in now to strategically support the sector to ensure we secure maximum economic recovery of the potential $20 billion barrels in the North Sea, and to plan for the gradual phasing out of wells through a national decommissioning strategy. Unite remains deeply concerned that across the UK there is no coherent plan to address the present and future challenges for the Oil and Gas sector.”