Deal seals more than 1,000 jobs

By Sarah ChambersA £475million deal has been struck to safeguard more than 1,000 jobs in East Anglia's offshore industry.A consortium has clinched a contract to run Shell's operations in the southern North Sea, saving about 300 jobs at engineering firm Amec, which linked up with two Dutch companies to form the winning team.

By Sarah Chambers

A £475million deal has been struck to safeguard more than 1,000 jobs in East Anglia's offshore industry.

A consortium has clinched a contract to run Shell's operations in the southern North Sea, saving about 300 jobs at engineering firm Amec, which linked up with two Dutch companies to form the winning team.

It will also secure employment at firms in north Suffolk and Norfolk which supply goods and services.


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The Amec consortium, AJS, beat off two other bidders to win the contract, which is worth £475m over seven years. Both of the rival consortiums would have taken the work away from East Anglia had they won.

The contract covers engineering, maintenance and operational support at Shell's platforms and the Bacton gas terminal.

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However, Amec revealed about 40 posts would be going in Lowestoft, 10 of them managers who will be moving to the consortium's offices in Holland.

The other 30 job losses will come from the firm's 180 operations and maintenance staff.

The Lowestoft operation will then be merged with its Yarmouth office, where about 80 people work. The company is to start looking for a new site to house the two teams.

Amec project director, Alan Armstrong, said winning the contract had saved jobs.

“It was critical to our overall business. The contract accounts for 75% of our work in the Yarmouth office,” he added.

“If we had lost, it would have left a large number of our people with no job, it's as simple as that.”

Shell transition manager Richard Palmer said the decision to award the contract to Amec was not an attempt to repair damage done by the closure of its Lowestoft office.

“Amec, through the AJS consortium, came out on top. It was a very strong and robust bid, it was a pure business decision,” he added.

Peter Austin, leader of Waveney District Council, said: “We do welcome the safeguarding of these jobs, although it is sad that not all jobs can be saved.

“We do welcome the confidence that has been shown in the skills available in the region. I think it's really a sense of relief that we have actually won the contract for the region, but regret that these jobs are lost.”

A spokesman for private sector union Amicus said: “We look forward to finding out how this will affect members working offshore.

“We hope this will mean extra security, but with Shell's previous track record, we can't be sure. We will seek meetings with the company to find out exactly what the outcome will be of this announcement for Shell employees.”

sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk

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