“A couple of hundred onshore oil workers, along with their families, are about to suffer a sore blow. The UK’s richest man, Jim Ratcliff has been forced to take time off from trying to get his hands on more taxpayers money, to throw them out of work.

Oil refining at Grangemouth, it seems, needs rationalisation.  So he’s going to rationalise 187 of the 687 workers onto the dole.  As far as he’s concerned it’s fuck the furlough!  Sir James doesn’t need the time to plan any alternative green jobs and to retrain the workforce.  A new green deal? Not his concern. It’s just business as usual – stagger on in the old ways in the face of a rapidly changing world where science is screaming about global warming and climate chaos and the need for a transition away from oil & gas.

But this is not an isolated incident in the oil & gas industry.  In recent months about 9,000 workers from offshore and the supply chain have already been forced down the road in this latest oil market chaos.  The industry is a basket case. Who knows if the 30,000 job losses predicted (threatened?) over the next couple of years by Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) include these 187 onshore oil workers or not.  Probably not!  

The North Sea is pretty much invisible to the media.  It seems they can only see what the oil industry PR departments tell them they can see.  Reminds me of the jumbo jet that  David Copperfield used to make disappear.  It’s a trick!  But it may not be quite so easy when it comes to Grangemouth and Ratcliff.  His PR is not quite so good.  Maybe this is what will ignite a discussion about how we address the issue of fossil fuels.

It’s not like any of any of these job losses are unexpected or unavoidable.  We know the transition to renewable energy is inevitable and necessary.  But we also know that if it’s left in the hands of the Ratcliff and the oil companies the transition will be botched, with little thought for either the workers or the planet.

For the transition to be done in a rational way – for it to be “fair” – it require us all to be involved in the discussions and the decisions.  Ratcliff and company are concerned above all about their bottom line.  We’re expected to sit by and watch as jobs go and Ratcliff gets on with looking after his own interests.

The oil and gas industry plan is to hang on in there and, in cahoots with the Government,  to produce every single drop of oil and gas they can.  They call it “maximising economic recovery” (MER).  The plan is to let the chaotic oil markets determine how and when the industry will run down and workers livelihoods and lives trashed.   And in the meantime we’re supposed to hope these same oil companies come up with an alternative to their own fossil fuel,  just in case the planet is still inhabitable once these bastards are finished with it.

“Net zero by 2050” (or 2045 – the Scottish variant) is what our Governments are promising.  But it’s just smoke and mirrors. The plan is actually to produce as much oil & gas from the North Seas as will turn a profit, and for as long as possible.  Along with this we’re going to get the greenhouse gasses associated with burning fossil fuel. Imagine this masterplan replicated worldwide.  Petroineos is a small cog in that wheel.

There’s obviously going to be no rational plan to extricate us from a nightmare that threatens the lives of our grandchildren and their grandchildren never mind the livelihoods of energy workers unless we all have a say in what needs to happen.  The responsibility for beginning the conversation that might possibly lead to some rational plan lies with those workers, their families and their communities, who will first bear the brunt. If not them then who?

No dumping workers and their families.  Those who want to must be allowed and encouraged to get into green jobs to replace the fossil fuel industry that’s killing us.  If they need retraining then that’s what has to happen.  We need clean energy to replace fossil fuels.  It’s not rocket science – it’s climate science. And if we don’t have a renewables industry that can take up our skilled workers and provide us with a future, it needs to be built.

Start the conversation!