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OFFSHORE workers accused the privateers exploiting Britain’s multibillion-pound oil and gas wealth of further greed yesterday after they demanded more state support in return for keeping the pumps running.
Industry body Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) sparked a bidding war between Labour and the Tories following a stark statement of intent.
It threatened that massive falls in wholesale prices will mean little new investment and a “collapse” in exploration.
Union Unite — which alongside GMB has launched a consultative ballot of members in the sector over attacks to pay, terms and conditions — said politicians in Edinburgh and London were complicit in the industry’s “strategic failure to plan for a slump in oil price.”
Commenting on the OGUK activity survey, chief executive Malcolm Webb claimed that “permanent change” was needed in the form of bigger tax breaks.
For its part the industry was planning to make “efficiency” cuts of 40 per cent, he said.
Less “tax, regulation and cost” was key to sustaining the private sector’s interest in “a major national asset.”
Labour and the Tories scrambled to prove themselves the most industry-friendly.
Chancellor George Osborne vowed to “take further action” and will meet industry figures tomorrow.
And shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex pledged: “If the Tories do not act on the tax regime for the North Sea in this budget, Labour will.”
But Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty called for serious government intervention in the sector, warning that OGUK had produced a “manifesto which focuses solely on how employers — who have generated billions from the North Sea for decades — can maximise their profits with as much public subsidy as possible.”
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