UK: Number of Workers on Offshore Platforms Decreased due to Pandemic


The number of workers on offshore oil and gas platforms decreased by around 4,000 as the UK went into lockdown in March this year,  UK's offshore oil and gas industry body OGUK said Tuesday.

Per OGUK's numbers, the average number of weekly personnel on board decreased from around 11,000 on March 8, to just over 7,000 one month later.

Since the lowest point in April, there has been some recovery in personnel on board, but it remains below the pre-lockdown level, OGUK said.

The report shows that, following the lockdown in the UK earlier this year, with the exception of catering and production, all of the largest discipline groups were significantly impacted in the month under review, with drilling and engineering construction trades (electrical, scaffolding, rigging) particularly hard hit.

"This reflects the deferral of non-essential maintenance activity and the significant collapse in drilling and plugging and abandonment work," OGUK said.

More testing - more workers

"OGUK believes that the testing of all offshore workers for COVID-19, and not just those presenting with symptoms, will be key to enabling more workers to return," OGUK said. 

OGUK has said that the effects of COVID-19 and the fall in oil and gas prices have resulted in significant job losses in the sector with the reduction in commodity prices exacerbating the constraints in mobilizing personnel arising from the pandemic.

"OGUK has estimated that the sector could see as many as 30,000 jobs lost from the sector as non-essential work is deferred and projects under threat of cancellation," it said.

The offshore oil and gas industry body's Workforce Insight report 2020 also confirms the uptake of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - commonly referred to as the furlough scheme - by companies, particularly in the supply chain, as, OGUK says, many positioned themselves to endure the triple whammy of low oil and gas prices and the operational impact of the coronavirus pandemic.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 mobilization 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.

He said the recruitment and retention of diverse and talented people will be essential as the industry works to support UK energy needs both now, and in a lower carbon context. 

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