Call for action to save north sea oil jobs

The oil and gas industry, government and trade unions need to work closely to improve the situation in the north sea, MSPs have said.

Scottish Parliament members were responding to huge challenges in the oil sector caused by the drop in oil prices. The economy committee made a number of recommendations aimed at protecting North Sea jobs.

It said it hoped a sustainable industry could emerge from the downturn.

In recent months, oil has plunged to its lowest price in 12 years, with a barrel of international benchmark Brent crude dropping below $28 in Monday's trading..

Six thousand jobs have been lost offshore - 30,000 in support industries and 30,000 in the service sector, according to one union estimate.

In a bid to protect the industry and the skilled workforce, the MSPs said there should be no rush to begin decommissioning.

'Vital status'

Committee convener Murdo Fraser MSP, said Scotland's oil industry had a "vital status" within the Scottish and UK economy.

He said: "The challenges the industry is facing as a consequence of the significant and sustained fall in the price of crude oil represent a serious threat to our economic wellbeing, especially to the livelihoods of those employed in the industry and those communities who depend on it.

"In our evidence sessions, we heard from the trade unions, industry representatives and Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce about the impact and what needs to be done.

"What was clear to the committee is that there is a shared determination to protect and promote the industry, to secure a sustainable future in the face of current challenges.

"We call on all those involved to continue to work together to maximise the economic recovery of oil and gas rather than rush to decommissioning."

North Sea Brent Crude

Deputy convener Dennis Robertson MSP, who was criticised for claiming the industry was "booming" earlier this month, said: "In light of recent job losses, there is also a real fear that many highly-skilled workers may be lost to the sector.

"It is important that the industry reflects on this point to ensure that essential skills are retained in the workforce when the downturn stabilises with the possibility of recovery in the future."

Scottish Labour said the government should undertake an "urgent assessment of the oil jobs crisis on the wider economy" in light of the report.

Public services spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: "The jobs crisis in the North Sea has seen thousands of jobs lost not just in the North East but across Scotland and the whole of the UK in the supply chain.

"How many more reports does the Scottish government need to see before it understands how serious the situation is, and acts accordingly?"

Source: The BBC

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