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No Delays In Offshore Decommissioning

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

GMB Call On UK Government To Ensure No Delays In Offshore Decommissioning To Safeguard Thousands Of Supply Chain Jobs

Nearly 300 platforms need to be decommissioned and 4,000 wells plugged and abandoned and there is no logical case for delaying decisions says GMB.

GMB, the union for workers in energy industries and the offshore supply chain, has told Ms Amber Rudd, MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, that delaying offshore installation decommissioning work any further would be catastrophic for jobs and investment.  See notes to editors for copy of GMB letter to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change dated 10th December.

Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary for energy, said “GMB has written to government warning that offshore decommissioning decisions should not be delayed.

By all means extend the working lives of oil and gas platforms where possible but don't just kick the decommissioning can down the road.

Nearly 300 platforms need to be decommissioned and 4,000 wells plugged and abandoned. Thousands of UK jobs could depend on this work - there is no logical case for delaying decisions."

End

Contact: Brian Strutton, GMB National Secretary on 07860 606137 or Dave Hulse 07971 266157 or GMB Scotland Gary Smith 07710 618 909 or Jim Moohan 07885 868405 or GMB Press Office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to editors

GMB letter dated 10th December 2015:

Ms A Rudd, MP

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Department of Energy and Climate Change

3 Whitehall Place
London
SW1A 2AW

Dear Secretary of State

As you know, the oil and gas industry has been hugely positive for the UK economy for decades.  Scotland and the North East of England in particular have benefitted from the oil and gas industry and its associated supply chain.

The UK section of the North Sea still has good prospects with between 25% and 50% of the oil already produced still to be exploited.  In terms of gas stocks, the North Sea is being more quickly depleted, with estimates suggesting there is only between 5 and 10 years of supply left, unless there are radical changes to how the industry operates.

Over the past period the oil and gas sector has haemorrhaged jobs.  Around 65000 jobs have been lost.  Recently the GMB convenor who represents fabrication yards in Fife met with national politicians to discuss the fact that yards are facing closure because of the downturn in the oil and gas sector.  Decommissioning work will be crucial to the long term future of the yards in Fife.  Decommissioning work will be worth in excess of £50 billion long term.

GMB believes the oil and gas industry does need urgent support to protect our members’ jobs, including at the Fife yards but also to ensure we can fully exploit the stranded gas reserves that should extend the life of North Sea gas production.  Having access to gas is a matter of national security but it is also a key tool in tackling fuel poverty, with gas hearing being 4 times cheaper than electricity.

GMB supports the development of the strategy for the North Sea as laid out in the Wood Review.  It is imperative that we move forward with the proposals for a powerful Oil and Gas Authority as described in the Wood Review and provided for in the Energy Bill.

GMB is however deeply concerned that the Energy Bill now being presented to the House is over-emphasising the role of the OGA in promoting Carbon Capture and Storage at the expense of necessary decisions that need to be taken regarding offshore installation decommissioning. GMB supports CCS development and is disappointed at government's withdrawal of funding for this research but this is an embryonic technology which should not prejudice other immediately important concerns.  In particular GMB does not believe we can realistically delay offshore installation decommissioning work any further.  That would be catastrophic for jobs and investment.  It will almost certainly ensure UK yards in Scotland and the North East of England will miss out on the opportunity decommissioning presents with work going abroad and expertise being developed in places like Norway, not the UK. The almost exclusive focus of the Energy Bill in redirecting the OGAs primary focus onto CCS seems incompatible with the decision to cut back on CCS research.

The priority for the OGA should be maintaining tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs, developing decommissioning and looking after the national interest by ensuring the industry exploits stranded gas reserves.  GMB fears that the Energy Bill as currently drafted would blurr the focus of the OGA.  Not having a powerful OGA, focused on the future of the industry, including decommissioning, will be hugely damaging for jobs.

I would ask you to reconsider the Government’s position on this issue and get behind protecting and developing, new jobs in the oil and gas industry.  Delaying and diluting the Energy Bill cannot be in the interest of oil and gas workers.  Neither is it in the national interest. I'd be happy to meet again to continue our conversation about these and wider energy issues.

Yours sincerely

BRIAN STRUTTON

NATIONAL SECRETARY

Commercial Services Section

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