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Oil and Gas UK brands climate group report ‘misleading’

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Oil and Gas UK chief executive, Deirdre Michie

Oil and Gas UK has rebuked claims in a new report from a coalition of climate action groups as being “misleading”.

A report from Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Greenpeace, published Tuesday, criticised a lack of engagement with offshore workers on policy-making – including there being “no vehicle” for consulting workers on the upcoming sector deal – as well as “barriers” to moving into renewables.

Oil and Gas UK refuted the claims, saying that last year it carried out more than 5,000 conversations with workers, public bodies and trade unions from across the country while shaping Roadmap 2035, the industry’s blueprint for moving to net zero and lower-carbon energy sources.

Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) said the climate groups “failed to note the progress” to support workers to move between renewables, oil and gas and nuclear.

The trade body added it is “not aware of any approach” from the climate groups for feedback on their findings from wider industry, and called for campaign groups to “meaningfully engage” with the sector.

Chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “At a time when all industries are navigating unprecedented financial pressures, it is disheartening that some campaign groups are painting a misleading picture to suit a particular agenda, when in fact we could be much more effective if we work together to embrace the net zero opportunity.

“A huge proportion of companies in our industry have been supporting projects across the full energy spectrum including in renewables for years.”

The report surveyed nearly 1,400 people, roughly 4.5% of the whole UK oil and gas workforce.

It comes as the oil downturn and Covid-19 bring thousands of job cuts across the industry  – the report found 43% of respondents had been made redundant or furloughed since March.

The report also said 91% of respondents had never heard the term “Just Transition”, which is a key tenant of OGUK’s Roadmap 2035 – aimed at ensuring oil and gas jobs move into sustainable roles in renewables, or other sectors like decommissioning, as the industry moves from fossil fuels.

Ms Michie added: “We need to work together and listen to everyone in our industry as we make our positive vision for the future into a reality. This vision is already securing investment in the kinds of projects we need to meet our climate ambitions.

“The Dolphyn project announced this week is a great example and shows how our changing industry continues to benefit energy communities, bringing in new investment and creating exciting new roles for the future.

“With a strong domestic energy industry which continues to provide affordable energy for millions across the UK, we can continue to support jobs and make a crucial contribution to the UK economy while positioning ourselves as leaders in a lower carbon energy future.”

Responding to OGUK, Gabrielle Jeliazkov, just transition lead campaigner for Platform, said: “It’s disheartening that OGUK – the industry lobby group – responds to workers reporting low morale and years of job insecurity by hitting back at those amplifying their voices.

“We are simply reporting what 1,383 workers have told us – that there is nowhere near enough government training and support, and that their expertise should inform policy on renewable energy transition.

“Lobby groups such as OGUK should not be afraid of hearing the opinions of oil and gas workers.”

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