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UK offshore oil & gas workers discontent: 80% would consider leaving

A survey of UK offshore oil and gas workers has revealed that more than 80% would consider switching to another sector. The survey – conducted by Friends of the Earth Scotland, Greenpeace and Platform – was taken to gauge the response to Covid-19, the oil price crash and views on the future of the fossil fuels industry.

1,383 of those canvassed (4.5% of the workforce) responded to the survey. The organisers say that the results show morale is palpably low among the workers who feel that they are “bearing the brunt of an industry in decline”.

It emerges that 43% of oil and gas workers surveyed have been either made redundant or furloughed since the outbreak of Covid-19. Concern over job security is understandable in an industry where even some of the big players have committed to being part of the transition towards cleaner energy.

More than three-quarters of the respondents indicated a willingness to become part of that energy transition if allowed to retrain but workers expressed dismay that they have not been consulted about such opportunities.

Health and safety standards were given a 3/5 rating but it is evident through many of the individual replies that cramped conditions exist on many oil rigs which would’ve been a major concern during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Just transition’ is the term applied to the framework required to secure workers’ rights and livelihoods when moving from extractive production to sustainable production. The survey found that 91% of the respondents had never heard of the term prompting the accompanying report to conclude that a “just transition means nothing if impacted workers are not at the heart of shaping policies that effect their livelihoods and communities”.

The survey highlights a desire among the workers to find new jobs in the renewables and offshore wind sectors. 74% of the participants were based in Scotland where many wind farms are under construction and it was felt that the skills required overlapped with the offshore fossil fuel sector. Many workers, however, were of the opinion that the prevalence of non-native firms in the sector precluded their chance of transfer.

Oil & Gas UK, the trade association for the oil and gas industry, responded to the survey with a call for campaign groups to meaningfully engage with the sector to ensure a fair and positive transition for energy communities. The UK government is working on a North Sea Transition Deal and will present initial findings and next steps in an upcoming white paper.


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