I read with dismay recent coverage of the decommissioning fringe event at the Dundee Labour Conference. Organised by Jenny Marra, the speakers at the conference, including ex Energy Minister Brian Wilson, bemoaned the missed job opportunity that onshore dismantling and recycling could deliver.
I noted the GMB were one of the event hosts. In September 2016 the GMB commissioned a report – Status and Capability of North Sea Decommissioning Facilities.
The following was one of the report findings: “Speculation in the press is mis-guided; some caution is required in estimating the number of jobs that will be created in this market, and certainly not the “thousands” that some commentators are quoting.
“In terms of actual numbers, an example is the 500t offshore module which was decommissioned by John Lawrie at Port of Dundee; the module was first “downsized”, then the metals further processed and shipped to a smelter.
“The operation took only six men just seven days to complete. Furthermore, the Murchison topsides have recently been delivered to VATS in Norway, around 25,000t of modules; only 45 people will be required to downsize and process all of this material at the yard, which will be clear to receive the Murchison jacket next year.”
What puzzles me is how the GMB can rationalise their published numbers with their public and media statements? And, where do Jenny Marra and Brian Wilson obtain their information from?
Furthermore, if Dundee obtains the lion’s share of the work, what about workers in Aberdeen, Arnish, Cromarty, Dales Voe, Fife, Hunterston, Kishorn, Lerwick, Lyness, Montrose, Nigg, Peterhead, Rosyth and Wick?
5,000 potential jobs for Dundee was mooted. It is a hugely exaggerated figure which will give false expectations to the public. When will the decommissioning industry set the record straight? There is no lost onshore dismantling and recycling jobs bonanza. There is no huge missed opportunity.
What the event got right was the need for jobs in Scotland and the lost opportunity with renewables. I would urge the GMB, Jenny Marra and Brian Wilson to reflect on the role of the taxpayer in decommissioning.
Reflect on the taxpayer being the largest stakeholder and what taxpayers are obtaining from offshore asset removal, dismantling and recycling. There is no environmental benefit, there is no economic benefit, there are no long term jobs and there is no societal benefit. Why is the taxpayer investing so much in something that delivers so little?
Use the taxpayers’ money to fund renewable energy capability. Renewables provides a clear environmental plus, many more long term jobs, economic returns and a very valuable societal commodity – clean heat and power. What does taking something to bits provide?