Shell to lay off North Sea workers

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The Independent Online
HUNDREDS OF oil industry jobs look likely to be lost in Scotland after Shell Expro announced that low oil prices were forcing it to make pounds 150m cuts.

The company, which has 3,500 staff on its North Sea payroll, told workers yesterday that it would have to cut its costs by at least pounds 50m next year, with a further pounds 100m savings found by 2001. Onshore jobs are likely to bear the brunt of the cuts, the company said.

The news was greeted with dismay by unions and local politicians. The announcement follows the news last week from Shell UK that up to 2,000 jobs could go because of a decision to close its head office in central London.

Around 300 jobs are to be moved to Aberdeen from London in an attempt to boost the efficiency of the company's North Sea operations.

Shell Expro's managing director, Malcolm Brinded, said: "We need to take significant action now if we are going to ensure that our business is going to survive.

"We do not know what the exact manpower implications will be."

The Offshore Industry Liaison Committee's general secretary, Jake Molloy, said: "The reaction from workers to this news is one of dismay.

"Now other operators may follow suit and that could mean further cuts - and even more strain on safety."

The Labour MP for Aberdeen Central, Frank Doran, said he was "extremely concerned" by the Shell announcement.

He met Mr Brinded recently to discuss the problem and "urged him to ensure that job losses were kept to a minimum and to ensure that staff will be consulted at all levels.

"It is important that the uncertainty facing staff employed by Shell and their contractors is brought to an end as soon as possible," Mr Doran said.