Nearly 50 offshore jobs at drilling contractor Archer are at risk due to client Ithaca Energy’s plans to reduce activity levels and crews on two central North Sea platforms.
In a letter sent to staff, Archer said the “proposed” redundancies were likely to affect 47 of its 83 employees on the Alba and Captain installations, operated by Ithaca, a subsidiary of Israeli firm Delek Group.
Archer, which has an office in Blackburn, near Aberdeen, said it “regretted” the situation and vowed to “make every effort” to avoid job losses.
It said none of the proposals were “set in stone”, but were subject to a 30-day consultation with the Unite trade union.
Archer, whose letter was shared on the Rig Worker’s Rant Facebook page, declined to comment.
Ithaca chief executive Les Thomas said the decision to reduce manning levels on Alba and Captain was driven by a desire to prevent an outbreak of coronavirus on board.
Mr Thomas told Energy Voice that Ithaca was freeing up space so that it could provide single-occupancy cabins, and spare cabins in the event that a crew member has to be isolated.
“To do that, we’ve got to reduce activity,” Mr Thomas said, adding that drilling wells and carrying out well-intervention work was “desirable”, even at relatively low oil prices, but was not “essential”.
Mr Thomas said predicting when activity levels would pick up again was “very hard”.
Ithaca took over the operatorship of Alba and Captain last year as part of its £1.6 billion acquisition of Chevron’s UK central North Sea portfolio.
EV reported last week that a host of North Sea operators, including Equinor, Cnooc, Repsol Sinopec, Taqa, Apache and BP, were reducing or reviewing crew numbers to prevent the spread of Covid-19 across the UK continental shelf.
The RMT union warned that “tens of thousands” of offshore jobs could be at risk as North Sea firms creak under the pressure of the on-going crude price rout, caused by a production standoff between Saudi Arabia and Russia, and the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on demand.