Offshore workers’ jobs at risk in ‘double-edged’ crisis, union warns

Oil price wars and the public health pandemic could drive the North Sea oil and gas industry over the edge, putting tens of thousands of offshore workers out of work, a union has warned.

The UK could become more reliant on imported fossil fuels, extinguishing prospects of a just transition for oil and gas workers, said the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “We are extremely concerned at the potential of the current double-edged crisis to permanently damage members’ jobs and conditions, as well as production capacity in the North Sea.

“We are hearing that exploration projects are being delayed or cancelled as oil gas prices plummet to unsustainable levels.

“This is threatening to take some operators to the wall, along with the contractor and supply chain workers maintaining their assets.

“Immediate Government intervention, co-ordinated with trade unions, industry and the Scottish Government, is essential to protect jobs and skills across the supply chain, as well as the investment needed to preserve the North Sea’s importance to the national energy mix.

“Norway’s state energy company, Equinor, has set up a department specifically to respond to Covid-19 with the overriding aim of preserving oil and gas production and the jobs it supports in the North Sea today.

“The UK and Norway are, of course, subject to the same economic conditions and the UK Government must agree a new offshore oil and gas industrial strategy with the offshore unions and industry in order to prevent catastrophic job losses and skills shortages, especially in Scotland, from the combined impact of collapsing oil prices and Covid-19.”