N Sea workers return ‘steadily’ since 4,000 Covid hit

The number of workers on offshore oil and gas installations decreased by around 4,000 as the UK went into lockdown in March this year, official figures published by trade group Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) have confirmed.

Average weekly personnel on board decreased from around 11,000 on March 8 to just over 7,000 one month later.

However, OGUK said worker numbers have “risen steadily” since then as the 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.”

Report author, OGUK workforce engagement and skills manager 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.

“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.

“Despite this, we continue to see some very worrying signs for employment in the sector, with the uptake of furlough and continued suppression of global energy demand impacting our industry like many others in the wider economy.

“As our report shows, the recruitment and retention of diverse and talented people will be essential as we work to support UK energy needs both now, and in a lower carbon context.

“A North Sea Transition Deal, supported by the UK and Scottish governments, can act as a catalyst for this future, and in so doing will provide certainty on the sustainability for the sector in difficult times.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.