Most of the 600 jobs will be cut this year and include both directly-employed and agency contract staff.
The company gave no breakdown of how many jobs are expected to go in each area of its North Seas operations, but BP staff and contractors working in Aberdeen, Sullom Voe in Shetland, and Grangemouth, are expected to be affected.
This is part of a BP plan to shed 4,000 jobs worldwide over 2016 as the oil giant struggles to balance its books amid the crude price crisis, which has seen the price of a barrel of benchmark Brent crude collapse by 70% since April 2014 to around $32 today.
When completed, BP’s global upstream workforce will total around 20,000 people.
These figures were confirmed by a spokesman at BP head office in London after the company issued staff with a consultation letter on its upstream business plans.
Similar consultations are ongoing with staff in other BP divisions (eg downstream, refining, etc) but no details have been provided.
A BP spokesman said: “Like the rest of the oil exploration industry, we are presently consulting with staff and contract workers on how we can become more efficient and economically sustainable in the face of an increasing difficult crude oil-price market of around $32-barrel.”
Jake Molloy, offshore organiser for the RMT trade union, said the North Sea workforce was ‘shocked and devastated’ by the BP announcement, and also voiced fears for the long-term future of the industry from the loss of some many skilled workers.
He said: “Once they leave the industry, they don’t come back.”
Molloy estimates that between 7,000 – 12,000 directly employed workers have been laid off from the North Sea since the start of the current oil price rout, with a total of 65,000 jobs lost in the extended UK supply chain.
The RMT is also urging the UK government should introduce ‘tax-incentives’ to encourage investment in new oil and gas exploration.
Yesterday, Petrofac confirmed that it plans to cut 150 oil worker jobs in the N. Sea.
Fergus Ewing, Scottish Energy Minister, said: “This will be an anxious time for BP workers and their families who are affected by this news.
“The Scottish Government will work closely with BP and with those who face redundancy to help them into alternative employment through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE).
“The Scottish Government is fully committed to working with the oil and gas industry during these challenging times. Our Energy Jobs Taskforce is co-ordinating action and laying a solid foundation for a truly modernised North Sea oil industry and has helped support more than 2,500 individuals and 100 employers through the current downturn.
“Given the challenges presented by lower oil prices and an increasingly complex operating environment, a key role for government will be to ensure that the fiscal regime is stable, predictable and that headline tax rates in the UK Continental Shelf remain internationally competitive.”