Job losses at Schlumberger amid oil price plunge

Oil Photo: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire

Oil Photo: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire - Credit: PA

More energy job losses have been announced as unions and employers in the oil and gas industry met to discuss the knock-on effect of the plunge in oil prices.

Schlumberger, the world's largest oil and gas services group, which has an office on Pasteur Road in Great Yarmouth, confirmed that North Sea jobs would be lost as part of its plans to cut 9,000 posts internationally.

The move followed 300 job cuts announced by BP, with unions fearing more firms will follow suit in the coming weeks.

A Schlumberger spokeswoman said: 'The dramatic fall in oil price over the past quarter has led our customers to decrease exploration and production activity worldwide.

'As a result, Schlumberger is reducing headcount in line with lower activity levels and this is unfortunately impacting our North Sea operations and people.'

The spokeswoman refused to comment on reports that around 100 North Sea jobs could be at risk.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: 'This is yet more bad news coming at the end of what has been a grim week for the offshore industry. All the signals that the union is receiving suggest that there is far worse to come.

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'The energy industry workforce is caught in a pincer movement of slash and burn cuts from companies who racked up vast profits when the going was good and a lack of swift and decisive action from the politicians to stave off this growing crisis.'

Oil & Gas UK said today's meeting with unions was 'open and constructive', adding: 'Oil & Gas UK talked about how best the industry could work with the unions to protect the long term future of the North Sea and the steps that need to be taken to help it weather the current difficult business climate.'

Oonagh Werngren, Oil & Gas UK's operations director, said: 'Oil & Gas UK listened to the unions' concerns in light of rising costs and declining production, exacerbated by the fall in oil prices.

'The industry is working hard with Government on fiscal and regulatory reform to help safeguard the long term future of our industry. Oil & Gas UK and the unions have today agreed to join together in calling for this much needed reform.

'We also agreed to meet the unions again as soon as possible for further discussion.'

Holyrood's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has demanded action from the UK Government, saying the employment threat from the oil price fall has produced the the most serious jobs situation Scotland has faced 'in living memory'.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has visited Aberdeen to talk to leading figures in the North Sea oil and gas sector, saying he wanted to see what could be done to maintain jobs and help anyone being laid off.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said the UK Government will take the time until the Budget announcement on March 18 to get the right measures in place to support the North Sea.

'I think particularly the new investment allowance, which is about giving people significant tax breaks on the new investment that we want to see.

'Ed Davey announced yesterday a commission which will be led by Andy Samuel, who is leading the new Oil and Gas Authority, to look at precisely what is needed.

'I think that it is right to say, with the Budget just a few weeks away, let's use that time to make sure we have the right, comprehensive measures to support this crucial industry,' he told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme.