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October 27, 2020

OGUK reveals declining numbers of oil and gas offshore workers

A new report by trade association Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) found that the number of workers on offshore oil and gas installations in the North Sea has dropped by about 4,000 since the start of Covid-19 lockdowns at the end of March this year.

By Yoana Cholteeva

According to the organisation’s ‘Workforce Insight report 2020′, average weekly staff on board offshore constructions decreased from around 11,000 on 8 March to more than 7,000 a month later, with drilling and engineering construction trades mostly impacted.

The report follows a survey of approximately 1,400 production workers, nearly 50% of whom said they had been furloughed or made redundant since March, as well as 81% that would consider leaving the industry.

OGUK noted that while official figures on offshore employment would not be available until 2021, current signs are “worrying”. The data further demonstrates the need for governments, industry, and regulators to collaborate to protect jobs while working to meet the UK’s energy needs, and transition to a lower-carbon future.

OGUK workforce engagement and skills manager, and author of the report, Dr Alix Thom said: “Our figures confirm the initial operational impact of the lockdown back in March this year, with the number of workers offshore decreasing considerably in the space of a month as companies reduced to minimum manning in a bid to control the spread.”

OGUK’s ‘Workforce Insight report 2020’ also confirms the uptake of the coronavirus job retention scheme by companies in the supply chain, as many positioned themselves to endure the challenges brought by low oil and gas prices and the operational impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Numbers have risen steadily since then as industry has adopted a robust swiss cheese barrier model, with a range of preventative measures in place both prior to mobilisation and whilst offshore, which has helped secure more jobs and increase operations in the immediate term,” Thom added.

The report concludes that the recruitment and retention of offshore talent will be essential to support the UK energy industry and a North Sea transition deal, supported by both the UK and Scottish governments, could act as a catalyst to prevent further unfavourable outcomes for the sector.


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