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 industry body OGUK confirm today. Average weekly personnel on board decreased from around 11,000 on the 8 March to just over 7,000 one month later, with drilling and engineering construction trades hardest hit.
OGUK’s Workforce Insight report 2020 also confirms the uptake of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by companies, particularly in the supply chain, as many positioned themselves to endure the triple whammy of low oil and gas prices and the operational impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The leading representative body for the sector noted that while official figures on both on and offshore employment would not be available until next year, tentative signs are worrying and underline the need for governments, industry and regulators to work together to protect the jobs and skills that will be needed to meet UK energy needs now and as the country moves to a lower carbon future.
Commenting, report author OGUK workforce engagement and skills manager 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.
“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.”