Oil prices fall must not compromise health and safety

Monday 12th January 2015


For those of you following the news in the last few weeks, I’m sure you would not have failed to notice reports regarding the looming oil crisis.

Independent research from the Scottish Parliament’s research centre and the Oil and Gas sector, suggests that as a result of the drop in oil prices there could be as many as 15,000 job losses here in Scotland.

Indeed, Robin Allan of Premier Oil recently said that the North Sea Oil industry is “close to collapse”.

While there is rightly a focus on trying to prevent job losses, it’s vital that the fall in oil prices, and the reduction in revenue to the sector that will come as a result does not also have a knock on effect on health and safety standards.

The Piper Alpha Disaster that happened over 25 years ago and which tragically claimed the lives of 167 people, five of whom were from Inverclyde, has shown us what can happen when proper health and safety measures are not applied.

And with oil in the marginal fields now more difficult to extract and the rigs themselves beyond their design life the need to maintain health and safety standards is all the more important.

This is why in Parliament last week, I asked the Scottish Government to give a commitment to bring together the contractors, the operators, the unions and the Health and Safety Executive to clearly establish that there will be no compromise in safety.

While I was disappointed that the Minister did not categorically agree to bring these stakeholders together, I did welcome that he at least acknowledged the crucial importance of health and safety and I hope he will do all he can to prevent not only a job crisis but also a health and safety crisis.