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Aberdeen Press & Journal: SHELL REVIEW DEPLOYMENT OF NORTH SEA WORKFORCE

KEITH FINDLAY

18 October 2006
 
Shell is reviewing the number of people it employs in the North Sea, the energy giant’s UK subsidiary revealed last night.

A spokesman for Aberdeen-based Shell UK stressed the exercise was routine and part of worldwide reviews that were carried out periodically to ensure maximum efficiency.

Shell’s spokesman said: “We can confirm that (Shell) Europe is participating in a global benchmarking study being carried out on staff deployment in a range of technical disciplines.

“This study is looking at how we are utilising and deploying staff to ensure optimum effectiveness in current market conditions.

“This is normal business practice in operational environments, with deployment of staff and other resources constantly being reviewed.”

A union official warned the move would be unsettling for Shell’s North Sea workforce.

Amicus regional officer Graham Tran said: “Any announcement of this kind from a major company will be of concern to the workers.

“We fully recognise that companies continually have to keep their operations under review, but they must also keep their workforce and contractors fully advised as they go along.”

The Shell spokesman was unable to say how long the study would take or when any of its findings would emerge but insisted it was still very much “business as normal” in the North Sea.

He added: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on or confirm the 2007 plan as this has not been developed yet.”

He also revealed that Shell UK had decided to sublet its GlobalSantaFe Arctic IV semi-submersible to other operators for the first 12-18 months of a 36-month contract period because the company’s 2006 North Sea drilling programme has gone better than expected.

“We have completed a number of wells ahead of schedule,” he said, adding that early delivery of a rig from BP had led to a change of plan for 2007-08.

He said the Arctic IV was now surplus to requirements “for the immediate and near future” and would be offered to other North Sea operators.

Wells planned for execution by the semi-sumbersible would now be deferred until 2008.

“We believe there will be no job impacts due to this decision and are confident other operators will be able to utilise the unit within the North Sea market,” the spokesman said.

“Shell remains committed to the North Sea as one of our strategic core areas and our spending levels in Europe remain robust.

“We are experiencing the highest level of drilling activity for some time, operating some 16 rigs in Europe.”

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