Unions fear oil industry job losses

An oil rig in the North Sea.

An oil rig in the North Sea. - Credit: PA

Job cuts caused by the slump in oil prices could cause “serious long-term damage” to the UK’s energy capacity, unions have warned.

The Government was pressed to take urgent action as workers at oil giant BP were braced for news of job losses.

The firm announced restructuring plans last month following the fall in oil prices and is expected to give information today on its plans affecting jobs.

Around 15,000 of BP’s employees are based in the UK, while the company employs about 84,000 people worldwide.

It warned last month that the rate of job losses across the UK and abroad will increase, with the focus likely to be on head office and back office roles rather than front-line operations.

Today’s briefing will be held at BP’s North Sea headquarters in Aberdeen.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey is meeting oil and gas industry officials in Scotland later today.

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Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “In the wake of the current price slump RMT is demanding that Westminster and the Scottish Parliament adopt a crisis management approach to ensure sustained production, maintenance of infrastructure, retention of skills, and a robustly regulated regime in the future. Warm words from Ed Davey have to be matched by sharp and decisive action.

“If immediate action isn’t taken then we risk turning today’s crisis into longer term damage that would threaten the very core of our offshore industry. This is no time for playing politics when the security of UK energy supplies is on the line.

“Today’s expected BP announcement confirms the RMT warning that tens of thousands of jobs in the industry are at stake, along with the prospect of lasting damage to infrastructure, production capacity and the safety culture. Intervention is absolutely critical and that is the case that we are setting out today to the politicians north and south of the border and from all sides.”

The oil giant has warned that plans to streamline its business will cost it one billion US dollars (£638 million) over the next year.

The restructuring bill will reflect the need to downsize its operations following 43 billion US dollars (£27.5 billion) worth of divestments since the Gulf of Mexico disaster in 2010.

The move to simplify the business comes with the price of oil at around 65 US dollars a barrel, some 40% below its level earlier last year.