North-east MSP warns against any moves to cut corners

Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher

The slump in the price of North Sea oil is no excuse for oil companies to cut back on spending on offshore safety measures, north-east MSP Lewis Macdonald said last night.

Mr Macdonald, Scottish Labour’s energy spokesman, added: “The falling oil price is putting severe pressure on oil companies.

“We’ve already heard about proposed job cuts among sub-contractors and of plans to cut wages but there can be no compromise on safety.”

He was speaking soon after newly released files revealed the UK Government abandoned plans to invest extra cash in North Sea safety two years before the Piper Alpha disaster, because it was not deemed a priority.

The revelations from the National Archives – published yesterday under the 30-year rule – were described by one Piper Alpha widow, Ann Gillanders, who lost her 50-year-old husband Ian, an engineer, when the platform exploded in 1988, as “beyond disgraceful”.

Mr Macdonald said: “The lessons of Piper Alpha have made the North Sea a much safer place to work. That safety regime cannot be jeopardised by budget cuts caused by the falling price of Brent crude.

“That’s one of the issues I’ll be raising when Aberdeen City Council hold its oil summit early next year.”