Fears over Covid-19-induced ‘cliff edge’ for oil and gas in Scotland

Yoana Cholteeva 1 September 2020 (Last Updated September 1st, 2020 16:00)

Council officials in Scotland have warned that the oil and gas industry stands on a cliff edge amid the Covid-19 crisis and communities in the north-east of Scotland could be seriously harmed if the industry collapses, Scottish newspaper the Press Journal, reports.

Fears over Covid-19-induced ‘cliff edge’ for oil and gas in Scotland
Members of Aberdeenshire Council have commented on the impact on communities should the offshore industry be further hampered, while assessing what aid can be offered. Source: Pikist

Council officials in Scotland have warned that the oil and gas industry stands on a cliff edge amid the Covid-19 crisis and communities in the north-east of Scotland could be seriously harmed if the industry collapses, Scottish newspaper the Press Journal, reports.

Members of Aberdeenshire Council have commented on the impact on communities should the offshore industry be further hampered, while assessing what aid can be offered.

Aberdeenshire Council head of economic development and protective services Belinda Miller told colleagues on the authority’s sustainability committee: “We all know we don’t really know the scale of the challenge yet from an employment point of view, let alone company survivability through post Covid-19-scenarios we are looking at.

“We cannot assume it’s going to be an easy journey for any of us in the public sector as we support people who potentially will become unemployed.

“The scale of potential unemployment in the region is significant. If there was a 10% unemployment rate, that’s 26,000 jobs in the city and shire.”

Numerous industry job losses across the UK have already been observed because of the “triple whammy” of Covid-19, the dramatic drop in oil prices, and low gas prices.

Officials’ prime concerns now revolve around many more jobs that could be in danger as the furlough scheme ends at the end of October and companies across the region might have to reconsider their staff’s prospects.

“Data already shows a large number of people have been made unemployed from the oil and gas sector – and we know the October cliff edge will be quite significant,” Miller added.

The council head has pledged to organise a meeting with local contacts, such as Opportunity North East, focused on how companies are currently adapting and preparing for potential job losses. It will also explore what the council can do to support people who might soon be out of work.

Currently, the Aberdeen authority is working with the agency Skills Development Scotland, colleges, and universities, looking at how staff can reskill and adapt as the oil and gas sector shifts.