Scotlands Rig Graveyard Sees Rig Numbers Increase

 

Published in Oil Industry News on Friday, 9 September 2016

Graphic for News Item: Scotlands Rig Graveyard Sees Rig Numbers Increase

In the picturesque Cromarty Firth where dolphins can be seen leaping between blue-gray waves, giants of twisted metal sit waiting to be used or scrapped.

The price of crude oil is steadily declining, and in Scotland as in many other countries, this means the abandonment of oil rigs. To disassemble the machines is not just costly, it also might prove to be a mistake should the market rise again. So the massive rigs, weighing around a thousand tons each, are towed into the bay of Cromarty Firth from the North Sea. Here they will pile up and rust until the economy turns its favor toward crude oil again. Many Scots hope for this, particularly those in areas supported by the drilling industries.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKIJD3uB4am/embed/captioned/?v=7 These rusting rigs are a symbol of what many say is the end of Scotland’s oil industry, a looming harbinger of unemployment in communities that have depended on the oil industry for decades. But port authority CEO Bob Buskin doesn’t refer to Cromarty Firth as a graveyard but rather as a parking lot, indicating his belief that the situation will change.

More Images are available at the source article below.

 

Source: Atlas Obscura

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Unite is the largest trade union in for offshore workers in the North Sea UKCS

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Wood Group and Unions Reach ‘Mutually Agreeable Proposal’ Over Strikes

Wood Group and Unions Reach ‘Mutually Agreeable Proposal’ Over Strikes

Published in Oil Industry News on Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Graphic for News Item: Wood Group and Unions Reach 'Mutually Agreeable Proposal' Over Strikes

Previous 48-hour and 24-hour strikes have already been placed on hold on seven Shell-operated platforms whilst parties try to come to a resolution over plummeting wages and cuts to benefits and rotations.

The move follows “a series of in-depth discussions” with the new proposal being put forward to members of the unite and RMT unions next week.

The first 24-hour strike which took place on 26 July was the first  round of industrial action in the North Sea for almost 30 years and was also followed by a 48-hour stoppage the following week.

A Wood Group spokesperson said: “Wood Group representatives, officials from the Unite and RMT unions and shop stewards have now drawn up a mutually agreeable proposal which we consider to be in the best interests of all parties.

“The new proposal recognises the skills, flexibility and capabilities of the incumbent offshore workforce, the challenges facing the industry and demonstrates collective leadership in shaping the future of the North Sea.”

Best proposal

Unite regional officer John Boland said: “Throughout this dispute, our members have remained united and strong in defence of their pay and conditions, and we have always made clear that we were open to meaningful negotiations.

“As ever, we will guided by our members, but Unite and the offshore shop stewards believe that this proposal is the best that can be achieved in the current circumstances.”

Paul Goodfellow, Shell UK and Ireland Upstream vice president, said: “Shell is pleased with this proposal and looks forward to working with Wood Group, Unite and the RMT to ensure that the North Sea remains competitive.”

The platforms involved were the Curlew, Brent Alpha, Brent Bravo, Brent Charlie, Nelson, Gannet and Shearwater.

Aberdeen-based Wood Group provides maintenance and construction to Shell and signed a three-year extension to its contract earlier this year.

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Unite is the largest trade union in for offshore workers in the North Sea UKCS

Check out 10 good reasons why you should join Unite.

Have a voice, take action and make change happen. Join the union

today!

http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/joinunite/

 

 

 

 

Union to put Wood Group proposal to offshore workers

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Unite the union is to ballot members on a proposal that could end an industrial dispute that led to the first North Sea strike in a generation.Unite members working on Shell platforms across the North Sea started strike action after rejecting proposed cuts in pay and allowances by their employer, the oil facilities company Wood Group.

The workers faced losing up to 30% in pay and allowances.

Unite and the RMT union have had five meetings with Wood Group since the unions decided to suspend their industrial action on 12 August for further negotiations.

A proposal from those negotiations will now be put to Unite members in a ballot.

Unite regional officer John Boland said: “Throughout this dispute, our members have remained united and strong in defence of their pay and conditions, and we have always made clear that we were open to meaningful negotiations.

“The proposal we are putting to members will still involve a large degree of sacrifice on their part. Wood Group has made concessions on key areas of competency and flexibility payments that will reduce the impact of the cuts they originally put forward.

“As ever, we will guided by our members, but Unite and the offshore shop stewards believe that this proposal is the best that can be achieved in the current circumstances.”

 

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Unite is the largest trade union in for offshore workers in the North Sea UKCS

Check out 10 good reasons why you should join Unite.

Have a voice, take action and make change happen. Join the union

today!

http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/joinunite/

 

Orkney Islands Seen as Potential North Sea Decom Base

 

 

Orkney Islands Seen as Potential North Sea Decom Base

Published in Oil Industry News on Friday, 2 September 2016

Graphic for News Item: Orkney Islands Seen as Potential North Sea Decom Base

Orkney Islands Council has given DSM, a UK-based demolition and decommissioning company, the opportunity to consider Lyness as a potential base for North Sea oil and gas decommissioning work.

The Council said on Wednesday that the project is at an early stage in its development but has the potential to bring significant inward investment and economic benefits for Orkney.

DSM has already held early discussions with the Council and visited Lyness to carry out an initial assessment.

DSM believes that Lyness can be a base for its activities in northern Scotland and that the broad base of skills and resources available locally are of great interest to the company.

The Council added that the company will engage with the Council, local businesses, and the Hoy and wider Orkney community as it develops its proposals. DSM will also engage with the oil and gas sector to determine potential business for a new facility and undertake the environmental assessment and feasibility testing processes which are needed to ensure the sustainability of such a development.

Council Convener Steven Heddle said: “This project has the potential to create significant employment, a range of business opportunities for local companies, and considerable economic benefits for Orkney as a whole.

“There will be a growing demand for oil and gas decommissioning facilities in the years ahead. Lyness and the natural deep-water harbor of Scapa Flow, with their location close to the North Sea, are ideally located to serve as a potential base for work of this kind.

“We now look forward to working with the company. Our priorities will be to ensure that Orkney benefits economically and that a development of this type is approached in an environmentally responsible manner.”

On Tuesday, Council officials, councilors, and DSM’s Graham Crowe discussed the project at a meeting of the Graemsay, Hoy and Walls Community Council to which the whole community was invited.

Councillor James Stockan, Chairman of the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, representing Stromness and the South Isles, said: “It was important that representatives of the local community heard first about this potentially exciting development for the island.

“It could result in many benefits, not least in terms of the jobs it could bring to the island and more widely across Orkney, and I welcome the company’s commitment to creating as much local employment as possible.”

Source: www.offshoreenergytoday.com

Workers are victims of robbery on the high seas

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Workers are victims of robbery on the high seas

An offshore supply ship’s crew, abandoned on-board ship in a Great Yarmouth dock since December, has gone without pay for several months. The 12 crew members, all Indian, spent their time growing vegetables in pots on the deck of the Malaviya Twenty, writes journalist Polly Toynbee in the Guardian. She says the company hoped they would give up, but they are holding out for their pay. “They’re trying to wear us down,” one officer told her: they want no names printed for fear of blacklisting. The Indian supply ship plies its trade sailing between the British coast and UK offshore oil rigs and wind farms. Despite this, its foreign owners need not pay the UK minimum wage: rates are often a third less than for British sailors. The trade union Nautilus has stepped in to assist the crew. It notes: “The exploitation of these crews directly undermines our own shipping industry with unfair competition.” The union has called in the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which means the ship is barred from leaving port until the men are paid. According to Toynbee: “The shipping industry is a prime example of what an unfettered free market does to a workforce, of globalisation at its reddest in tooth and claw. Flying flags of convenience, British shipping has been allowed to register in low-pay, low-regulation countries.” She adds: “Can Britain rule its own waves again after Brexit, restoring its ships to the UK flag with decent pay and safety conditions? No chance, since Britain has been the strongest lobby in Europe against reform. Of EU nations, Britain protects its own sailors least from unfair, undercutting competition, and issuing most ‘certificates of equivalent competency’ to foreign mariners so they can work on its ships.” Leaving the EU could make matters worse, she warns. “The three politicians who now command the Brexit negotiations are all extreme free marketeers. Once outside the EU, don’t expect welfare, wages and working conditions to be high among their priorities as they attempt to strike new trade deals.”

Ÿ  The Guardian.

Malaviya Twenty has been moored in Great Yarmouth docks since December. To look at, it’s no rustbucket, kept in good shape by its Indian crew – but when I visited a week ago, they hadn’t been paid by the ship’s owners for all those months. This is a story about the fate of shipping in Britain – an often forgotten industry, though we depend on it for over 90% of our imports and exports, and for most of what is stacked on supermarket shelves.

Waiting for their wages, the 12 crew members spent their time growing vegetables – onions, garlic, cabbages and tomatoes – in pots on the deck. The company hoped they would give up, but they are holding out for their pay. “They’re trying to wear us down,” says one officer: they want no names printed for fear of blacklisting. He can’t go home without his pay as he has taken out loans to keep his family.

Why was this ship contracted here in the first place? That reveals much about British shipping and the fate of seafarers. This is an Indian supply ship sailing between the British coast and UK offshore oil rigs and wind farms. Despite this, their foreign owners need not pay the UK minimum wage: rates are often a third less than for British sailors.

The trade union Nautilus International,which often helps stranded crews, has stepped in, calling in the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). This means the ship is officially prevented from leaving port until the men are paid.

Its sister ship Malaviya Seven has been similarly holed up in Aberdeen. This crew were owed a total of $380,000 (£290,000) in June: some has been paid following MCA intervention, but Paul Keenan of Nautilus says $200,000 is still owing. The ship, worth millions, could be sold off to pay its debts.

The shipping industry is a prime example of what an unfettered free market does to a workforce, of globalisation at its reddest in tooth and claw. Flying flags of convenience, British shipping has been allowed to register in low-pay, low-regulation countries. That exodus took off in the wicked 1980s when the number of British merchant navy officers was cut by two-thirds, replaced by cheaper foreign staff. Now only a third of British-owned shipping is registered under a British flag.

Can Britain rule its own waves again after Brexit, restoring its ships to the UK flag with decent pay and safety conditions? No chance, since Britain has been the strongest lobby in Europe against reform. Of EU nations, Britain protects its own sailors least from unfair, undercutting competition, and issuing most “certificates of equivalent competency” to foreign mariners so they can work on its ships.

The three politicians who now command the Brexit negotiations are all extreme free marketeers. Once outside the EU, don’t expect welfare, wages and working conditions to be high among their priorities as they attempt to strike new trade deals. Indeed, the risk is that after Brexit shipping companies based in the UK will try to drop existing EU regulations. Others may leave because they need an EU base: Stena Line warned immediately after the referendum that it might re-flag its UK vessels.

A manning directive to ensure that ships sailing between EU states are paid and regulated under EU law has failed to gain approval in Brussels for years, defeated by ship owners wanting to hire cheaper non-EU crews.

Compare this with how the US protects its industry: all ships working between US ports must be US-built and crewed. Many countries do likewise. But in Britain and the EU it’s a global free-for-all, where the cheapest contract wins. The result is acollapse in the British-registered shipping industry, now only 0.8% of the total worldwide. Why would owners pay British wages when they can hire crews elsewhere for much less?

There has been a steep drop in training British mariners: companies are obliged to train some cadets, but then rarely take them on. More than 10 keen, well-qualified young people apply for every merchant navy training place; but despite promising good apprenticeships, the government has just cut funding for maritime training. Numbers are falling fast, though thousands of experienced officers are needed onshore as harbourmasters and marine pilots.

The City employs 15,000 of these trained officers in marine insurance, who arbitrate in causes of accidents and other shipping specialisms. A government report last year dodged all the real issues, but it did warn of the urgent need “to replenish and develop the skills needed to maintain our position as a world-leading maritime centre”. The 90,000 UK seafarers of 40 years ago have now become only 19,000.

In Britain, few employees are as brutally undercut as these. Ship owners fly foreign flags of convenience that allow them to fire British crews and hire others from the poorest countries, paying the lowest rates in a race to the bottom. Meanwhile the government turns a blind eye.

 

Two days ago Malaviya Twenty’s owners paid off some of the crew, who are flying home – though the ship will be detained until all wages are fully paid. And as the Nautilus union protests: “The exploitation of these crews directly undermines our own shipping industry with unfair competition.”

British politics focuses too little on the reality of working lives. Many who voted Brexit overestimated the impact of migration on their own low pay, or the lack of housing and public services. But here’s a case of crude, obvious labour-market abuse by employers substituting cheaper foreign staff.

If one company does it and undercuts the rest, then all must follow suit in bidding for contracts. Only government intervention can prevent a race to the bottom that is eroding established working rights in so many sectors.

 

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