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‘Heartbreak’ as new figures suggest North Sea job cuts rising faster than expected

North Sea just transition
North Sea oil and gas workers.

More than 4,500 “heartbreaking” North Sea job losses have already taken place in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak and oil price rout, it is understood.

The shocking job loss figure was disclosed to Scottish trade unions by skills agency Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

A trade union boss called the situation “frightening” and revealed he was currently undertaking a “relentless” number of redundancy consultations

A report released by representative body Oil and Gas UK in April warned that 30,000 direct and indirect jobs could be cut in the next 12-18 months.

It claimed the North Sea supply chain could be the worst hit by the current state of the industry.

And in April, the Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG), a coalition of trade unions, issued its own report claiming upwards of 3,500 workers could be displaced by September 2020.

The Scottish Government unveiled a £62 million package for the sector’s recovery last week, made available over five years.

But Jake Molloy, OCG chairman and regional organiser for the RMT union, warned the job losses were increasing “day by day” as subsea and drilling activity has “dropped off a cliff”.

He said: “Trade union estimates predicted around 3,500 UK oil jobs would be displaced by September, but SDS told us during the course of a meeting that that figure had already been reached and that it was more like 4,500 already.”

He added: “The Scottish Government’s £62m fund will see a chunk go to an underwater engineering hub.

“Let’s get after it. Let’s not dilly-dally and wait around. We’ve got to get chasing this now.”

He also said more had to be done to prevent decommissioning work from going overseas.

On Friday, it was announced that Shell’s Curlew production vessel, berthed in Dundee for cleaning since mid-2019, would go to a Norwegian yard for scrapping.

OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “The coronavirus pandemic and low oil and gas prices continues to have a really grim impact on the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, with our recent report warning up to 30,000 jobs could be lost over the next 12 to 18 months if conditions persist.

“We are working with our members and the OGA and both governments to do everything that can be done to try to mitigate the drop in activity levels and job losses.

“That’s why we welcomed the Scottish Government’s recent funding announcement and today confirm that we are in formal discussions with the UK Government on a sector deal.”

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