Unite, Britain’s biggest offshore oil trade union, has warned the UK government that billion-pound losses announced this week by oil industry super-majors could, without serious interventions, bring an end to meaningful production in the North Sea within years.
The union highlighted results by Shell which on Thursday announced a drop in annual profits of 80 per cent to £2.6 billion and confirming cuts to 10,000 jobs worldwide, while BP had previously reported losses of £4.5 billion and ExxonMobil posted a 58 per cent drop in fourth-quarter earnings.
Unite also pointed to findings from the industry certification body DNV GL which showed the impact of the downturn on employment has been more acute across the North Sea than any other region, giving further rise to trade union fears of insufficient skill levels offshore with cuts being made too deep and too fast.
Over 70,000 oil-related jobs across the UK have now been lost since the oil price slump in January 2015 with grim forecasts that as many as 200,000 could be shed before the crisis eases, the union warned.
Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: “The impact on jobs and skills for the UK oil and gas sector due to these staggering profit losses could be disastrous unless the government steps in with significant interventions.
“Emergency tax measures should be implemented as soon as possible by the Chancellor so we can sustain jobs and skills as best as we possibly can, giving North Sea oil and gas production a fighting chance for the future.
“Left unchecked these losses will cascade onto offshore contractors and UK supply chains with inevitable consequences, potentially taking us beyond the point of no return.”
Unite National Officer for Oil Tony Devlin, added: “We need genuine co-operation between government, industry and trade unions to alleviate the increasing pressure on the sector while protecting employment rights.
“That’s why Unite is calling for the UK and Scottish governments to pull together an industry summit as soon as possible.
“It’s too late for the tens of thousands who have already lost their livelihoods but hundreds of thousands more are reliant on the next steps of our political leaders and they are desperately looking for commitments and common purpose.”