By DARA BUTTERFIELD
Deirdre Michie, the newly-installed Chief Executive of Oil & Gas UK, talked about the challenges facing the industry the North Sea – what it might mean for jobs – following the 50% slump in crude oil prices since last year in her first press conference in her new job.
Speaking from her new office in Aberdeen, Michie warned that there could be more job losses and rate cuts, but was optimistic about the future of the North Sea industry, saying improvements in efficiency and a focused workforce would turn the industry around for a sustainable future.
She said: “I’m really delighted to have been appointed to the role of Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK. It is a challenging time for the industry, but there is a prize that’s out there, it’s really worthwhile us rising to that challenge and that’s what my role and the role of Oil and Gas UK is all about.
“We have 450,000 jobs associated with this industry – almost half of which are based in Scotland. The majority of these 450,000 jobs that we talk about are in the supply chain.
“We recognise we’ve seen significant job losses. We’re monitoring those job losses, we consider there are over 5,000 that have already gone, and they’re predominantly onshore. Rates have been cut, salaries have been frozen and there is probably more to come in that space.
“From our point of view industry does need to change and does need to adopt a more sustainable model going forward. Some companies will be very challenged through this time so tough decisions will need to be made to secure jobs in the long term and our belief is that working together on these issues is the only way forward.
“We have the potential of industrial action looming on the horizon and from our point of view there will be no winners. It’s something that we must avoid.
“The challenges that face this industry are not going to be resolved by industrial action, they’re going to be resolved by people sitting around the room and really focusing and cooperating in terms of working through these challenges.
“We have to be sure that our focus remains relentlessly on improving the costs and efficiency of what we’re doing. I think the industry gets this, and I think that will help in ensuring that we do ensure that we work towards setting up a sustainable competitive and cost effective industry as we go forward.
“A more focused workforce is probably the right terminology, and I think the industry is going through a change, it does need to get leaner as it goes forward. And so I think that is what we’re witnessing today and if it is going to be a much more sustainable and cost competitive and cost effective and efficient organisation, then I think that these are the challenges that it is going to have to go for.
“We are starting to see positive things coming out of what companies are doing. A lot of companies saw this happening last year and have adjusting and adapting and looking for efficiency improvements and we’re starting to see that coming through.
“I think that we will continue to see those positive elements as we go forward but at the same time we have to recognise there are still difficult decisions to be made and that the impact of some of the decisions that have been made will start to come through towards the end of the year. It’s a balance in terms of how we position this going forward. Some of the stories will be tough and they will be difficult, but there are positive things happening and they enable us to turn this industry around.”
Offshore workers to press ahead with N. Sea strike ballot – Scottish Energy News, 22 May 2015 – http://goo.gl/ZmKxYo