AROUND 100 jobs are at risk in Aberdeen as North Sea firm Aker Solutions cuts its workforce.

The development which has raised new concerns that the gloom that has hung over the North Sea since the collapse in crude prices in 2014 has not lifted, will see dozens of staff relocated to Reading in England as part of plans to reduce the engineering company's workforce in the UK.

The technology firm which specialises in asset management services including the maintenance and inspection of offshore installations also plans to further cut its workforce by around 55.

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Employees moving from Aberdeen will work in a new facility built as a hub for the research and development of subsea equipment. The site in Reading will also act as the main manufacturing centre for the firm.

Around 300 Aker employees lost their jobs in the UK as a result of challenging conditions across the oil and gas sector last year.

Aker Solutions confirmed that talks were currently underway with staff representatives on the latest plans for job losses.


A company spokeswoman said: "Aker Solutions Ltd yesterday, August 10, began consultation with employee representatives on reducing its UK workforce capacity primarily within its products division in Aberdeen.

"As part of the consultation, 26 new roles are to be created, primarily in Aberdeen. As a result of the process, the workforce may be reduced by around 55.

"In addition, around 50 positions will be relocated from Aberdeen to Aker Solutions' new subsea technology centre in Reading."

Union leaders said it continued to be a worrying time for oil workers, adding that morale was at an "all-time low".

Jake Molloy, offshore organiser for the RMT union said the news shows that the North Sea oil and gas industry is "not out of the woods yet" adding: "I don't see any change in that this year despite all the rhetoric about the industry turning a corner.

"We're still not seeing that coming through."

He said: "There's a climate of fear right now for what the future holds, whether people will still be in employment this time next year. There are a lot of very worried and anxious people.

"Morale is at an all time low - there is still so much concern on the ground."

Mr Molloy said oil and gas companies could move operations to other parts of the country due to their global nature.

He added: "It's the nature of their business. Like many others they are moving into other fields and diversifying.

"Clearly their Reading operation can accommodate them but whether they get people relocating is another matter.

"The businesses are international by nature and that is part and parcel of this job unfortunately."

Aker's announcement came as the energy industry's global watchdog said that the oil market will take longer than expected to recover from its current doldrums with a deal to limit supply apparently faltering.

Crude oil prices have rallied in recent weeks following signs that a deal between the world’s largest oil producers to cut output had helped cut stockpiles in industrialised nations to their lowest level since 2016.

But the International Energy Agency warned that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries was "weakening in its resolve" to stick to supply cuts.

Earlier this week the North Sea oil and gas industry was being talked up by BP, Royal Dutch Shell and the Oil and Gas Authority.

Bob Dudley, BP's said his company’s commitment to the North Sea remained “rock solid” while Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Shell, indicated he is once again viewing the North Sea as an investment opportunity.

Meanwhile Oil and Gas Authority operations director Gunthar Newcombe said that there was change in the northern wind – and that the global audience is starting to recognise the profit potential.

Last month it emerged the North Sea oil industry cost taxpayers £312 million last year, the worst since records began nearly 50 years ago.

Revenues plummeted into the red for the first times due to low oil prices while there were high operating costs.

HMRC said that government revenues have declined over the last few years from £10.9 billion in 2011/12, to -£312 million in 2016/17.