Local and national politicians have expressed concern after BP announced plans to shed about 600 jobs from its operations in the North Sea.
The news emerged today, with job losses expected across various sites although BP was unable to say what the impact in Shetland might be.
BP communications manager Stephanie Millar said: “Our UK North Sea people are split across multiple sites, but mainly Shetland, Aberdeen, Falkirk and offshore. We have some people working in London and South Korea on our major projects (Quad204 and Clair Ridge).
“The reduction of 600 roles will take place between now and the end of 2017, with the majority of these roles leaving in 2016.
“We are not able to break down the 600 figure into staff versus agency contractor, or between different sites, until we go through collective consultation which starts tomorrow (Wednesday).”
Ms Millar added: “There are two main reasons: firstly, we are responding to a challenging business environment with lower oil prices, but secondly what we have announced today will help us to ensure a long-term, competitive and sustainable business.”
Councillor Alastair Cooper said: “This is no surprise given the low oil price, we don’t know how low it will go. Sullom Voe terminal need to position itself so that when new business comes, it’s in a position to win it.
“My concern is that if folk go with early retirement, [the terminal] will lose a lot of experience which is not easily replaced.”
MSP Tavish Scott said: “BP have been a vital cog in the Shetland economy. The Sullom Voe oil terminal has provided secure, well paid jobs for many local people since the 1970s. So this latest jobs blow is not good for the local economy. I am concerned that many oil companies are taking quick job cutting decisions in light of the falling crude oil price.
“But every commentator believes that oil prices will rise again. I want to ensure there is North Sea oil and gas production for the long term. BP have to ensure they have a skilled workforce ready to reinvigorate the North Sea when oil prices start to rise again.”
The oil giant said the majority of the staff and contractor posts would go this year, with the rest expected to be lost by the end of next year. The job losses amount to about a fifth of BP’s North Sea workforce.
Mr Scott added: “BP have made a colossal investment in West of Shetland oil and gas fields. But Sullom Voe has to win work otherwise the future looks less and less certain. I will be pressing BP to commit to Sullom Voe and its long term future.”