RMT calls for urgent action to protect Britain's energy

RMT calls for urgent action to protect Britain's energy

19 March 2020

RMT Press Office:

Offshore union RMT calls for urgent action to protect Britain's energy supply chain from collapse

OFFSHORE energy union RMT today warned that oil price wars and a public health pandemic could drive the North Sea oil and gas industry over the cliff edge, putting tens of thousands of offshore workers out of work, increasing the UK's reliance on imported fossil fuels and extinguishing prospects of a just transition for oil and gas workers.

RMT 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 on the UKCS 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.

“Government and industry's ‘Vision 2035’ strategy now looks in serious jeopardy and we agree that immediate Government intervention, co-ordinated with trade unions, industry and the Scottish Government, is essential in order 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.”


Ends.


Notes to Editors

RMT is calling for the following interventions from Government and industry to avert a disastrous economic collapse of the North Sea oil and gas industry:

1. The Oil and Gas Authority to take over ownership and operation of installations in the event of North Sea operators going out of business, as part of a new industrial strategy for offshore oil and gas.
2. Government funded unemployment and sick pay schemes for all offshore workers across production, drilling and Subsea sectors and other supply chain workers who lose their jobs due to contracting Coronavirus, required to self-isolate or from the collapse in oil prices.
3. Government to apply ‘key worker’ status to offshore energy, including oil and gas, workers to recognise their critical role in keeping the lights on during the current public health crisis and for the long term to stabilise future energy, investment and revenue streams from North Sea operations.
4. Impose a standard 2 weeks-on 3 weeks-off offshore rota across all North Sea installations, in order to sustain employment and provide opportunities for developing trainees/skills.
5. Direct regulatory intervention to prevent a dangerous increase in commercial pressure on offshore helicopter transport operations.
6. The Energy Division of the Health and Safety Executive to undertake a full safety audit of all North Sea oil and gas assets on the UKCS, including the clearance of all backlogs of safety maintenance work.
7. BEIS to draw up a UK wide Just Transition Fund, in dialogue with the offshore trade unions and the Scottish Government to ensure offshore oil and gas workers can re-train to work in the renewables (offshore and onshore) sector and the offshore decommissioning industry.


· OGUK’s Business Outlook published today calls for Government and industry “to progress proposals for a sector deal, at pace. This will help ensure that companies are able to sustain their operations now and prosper in the years to come.”
· Industry’s ‘Vision 2035’ was agreed by Government and industry in 2017 to maximise the economic recovery of North Sea oil and gas reserves.
· In 2018-19 according to OGUK, there were 259,000 direct and indirect jobs supported by oil and gas operations on the UKCS, including 38,000 contractor and c13,000 directly employed staff on North Sea installations. Total jobs supported by the sector were over 400,000 in 2014, which was followed by a similar collapse in oil prices which lasted two years.

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Tagged with: offshore, energy, oil, Covid-19,