Shell shifts supply chain to Norway

Jan 13, 2005 01:00 AM

An oil giant has come under fire after deciding to start transporting supplies from Norway to its North Sea rigs, rather than shipping them from Scotland. Shell UK has confirmed it will begin ferrying material and equipment from Bergen to some of its installations from March 2005.
The company says it will reduce safety risks and make business more efficient. But the move was criticised by workers' union Amicus, which fears it could lead to a loss of Scottish jobs.

In a statement, Shell said it had made the decision following the findings of a study which recommended carrying out an initial trial to ship commodities, including production chemicals, containers, fuel and water from Norway. A Shell spokeswoman from the company's Aberdeen office said the firm is now talking to internal and external stakeholders to address any concerns.
"This change in operations will give the benefit of reducing sailing time to and from the installations and reducing safety risks to vessel crews," she said. "We will also be reducing our environmental impact, with less steaming time, less fuel used and less emissions. The company must constantly find ways to do business in a more efficient manner to maintain our position as one of the leading operators and employers in the North Sea."

But Graeme Tran of trade union Amicus, said: "Ultimately, this could lead to the loss of a significant amount of jobs in the Aberdeen area.
"Shell are leading the cavalry charge towards cross border co-operation and we are not happy about it. They say this will reduce safety risks but, if they want to talk about safety, they should look at the hours offshore employees are working."
The move was heavily criticised by SNP energy spokesman Richard Lochhead. The North East Scotland MSP said: "Shell's decision is disloyal to the North East and a slap in the face for our first class service companies.
"It seems that London gets our oil revenues and Norway some of the offshore jobs. No other country would let this happen."

Tory MSP Alex Johnstone, who also represents North East Scotland, called for more to be done to ensure businesses north of the Border remain competitive.
He said: "I'm disappointed to hear that the issue of efficiency is creeping in. This is going to cost jobs in the shipping, harbour and supply industries. I fear this is the first example of some of the inflated transport costs that all industries in the North-east suffer from beginning to have an impact on our most important industry.”

"I'll be redoubling my efforts to ensure that transport costs are put at the top of the agenda. Aberdeen has a very strong economy but many Government policies like fuel tax and restrictive policies in planning which prevent development needed to support major industry are acting like a ball and chain in the North East.”
"Aberdeen generates tax resources greater than any other part of the Scottish economy and we have to encourage its development."

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