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Sullom Voe to lose one quarter of its staff

A subdued mood has settled on Sullom Voe oil terminal as it prepares to lose one quarter of its employees over the next three months.

OIL company BP has refused to admit that a quarter of its workforce at Shetland’s Sullom Voe oil terminal have been told they are to be made redundant.

In January BP announced it was shedding 600 of their 3,000 strong North Sea workforce over the next two years.

On Friday it emerged that management had informed 88 of the terminal’s 350 staff that they were “at risk” of losing their jobs at the end of June, subject to an appeals process.

BP said they could not confirm numbers until “individual consultations” had been completed.

The company is reacting to the sharp drop in oil prices over the last 18 months which has made operating in the North Sea a huge challenge.

Sources within the terminal who wish to remain anonymous for fear of upsetting management have said the job cuts will affect 26 senior staff, 27 middle managers and 35 technicians.

The company said they had made their decision by giving each employee a score based on their performance, knowledge, skills and experience.

However staff said they had not been shown the basis for the score on which they could mount an appeal.

There was also concern expressed that Shetland staff were losing their jobs while others based on the UK mainland were being kept on.

Councillor Alastair Cooper says the job cuts do not augur well for the terminal's future.

A BP spokesman denied there was any discrimination, saying location had nothing to do with their choice.

He also said that staff had been informed of their scoring and the reasons for their selection.

Local union representatives said they could not comment and regional organiser John Boland was unavailable.

Local councillor Alastair Cooper said he was not surprised by the figures, saying that BP had not denied to him that around 90 people would be losing their jobs in the summer.

Cooper said he was concerned that BP were losing experienced staff who knew how to run a 40 year old oil terminal as efficiently as possible.

“I don’t think this augurs well for the future of Sullom Voe,” he said.

“It could mean the plant is not running as efficiently as it would need to be given oil is trading at $30 a barrel.”

The north mainland councillor, who chairs Shetland Islands Council’s development committee, said BP had never developed a succession plan for the original employees taken on in the late 1970s and early ‘80s who were now retiring.

“As a result they are having to bring in folk external to Shetland. I don’t question their ability, but without the knowledge and experience I think Sullom Voe could struggle financially.”

One source said the mood within the terminal was “extremely unsettled and subdued”.

In recent years BP boosted its staffing levels at Sullom Voe, changed shift patterns and had been planning to build a gas sweetening plant, which is now being delayed.

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