Administrators at oil and gas operator Oilexco North Sea (ONS) clarified their position yesterday on retention bonuses proposed for staff at ONS and its Canadian parent to keep them working throughout the administration process.
Ernst and Young, which was appointed administrator of ONS last month, said it had gone to court because it was opposed to the employee-retention plan proposed by management of Oilexco Inc for employees of the group based in Calgary, and its wholly owned Alberta subsidiary, Oilexco Technical Services.
A spokeswoman for E&Y said: “We are currently opposing this employee-retention plan in its entirety in a Canadian court.
“We are not opposed to a separate employee-retention plan for ONS employees, and joint administrators from E&Y will pay employee-retention packages that are being agreed for ONS employees.
“However, the current proposed package for Oilexco Inc employees is significantly excessive and not in keeping with the strategy for ONS. The successful sale and protection of ONS remains the key priority of the administrators.”
The spokeswoman added that retention-bonus figures had not yet been finalised.
E&Y has received many expressions of interest in buying some or all of ONS, which employs about 100 people onshore and offshore.
It is expected that the sale of ONS will be concluded around the end of March.
Crude oil prices fell yesterday after surging more than 14% in the previous session, pressured by concerns on the economy, lower demand and a weak equity market. In New York, March crude fell 54 cents, to settle at $38.94 a barrel, and April crude was off 15 cents at $40.03. In London, April Brent slid 10 cents to $40.79.